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A Child Across the Sky

(Answered Prayers #3)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,019 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Just as the the word "weird" has many implications and shades of meaning, so too does the latest--weird--work by this gifted and perplexing writer. As Carroll ( Bones of the Moon ; Sleeping in Flame ) himself says, "Life has a habit of turning dark corners." Applied here, this observation seems an understatement: these convoluted corners are both light and dark, are many, ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 268 pages
Published July 1990 by Legend (first published 1989)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  1,019 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
go ahead and judge jonathan carroll's books by their covers; lord knows i have:

and so does spectrum:

the above edition has selected three of his covers in their "best of the year", during a particularly fruitful period of reissues:

the covers are what first made me want to read him, and what still makes me collect him in every language i can get. but it's not just surface; with my jonathan carroll, his books deliver on the spooky-fun promise of the covers. he does tend to tackle the same themes
Jul 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to tim by: karen brissette
Finishing Child Across the Sky felt like awakening from a strange dream in the middle of the day when I hadn't realized I'd even fallen asleep. ...more
Filmmaker Weber Greston discovers his best friend has killed himself. Also a filmmaker, Philip Strayhorn, best known for his Midnight films, leaves Weber a videotape in lieu of an explanation for his suicide. In the process of watching the tap Weber discovers how little he knew his best friend, the events surrounding his death and his movies. And then in classic Carroll fashion Weber is taken down a road of twists and turns and strangeness, featuring the world of Rondua of Carroll's previous Bon ...more
Glen Engel-Cox
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

2.5 stars

When I read Voice of Our Shadow, I was disappointed to find it not as good as I remembered. Still, I reminded myself, it was only his second book. I looked forward to the other Carroll books I bought in a batch. A Child Across the Sky was one of the many new ones.

It was with a sinking feeling, then, that I soon realized the book wasn't particularly good. It's true that it's part of a series, and I read it out of sequence, but it's marketed as a stand-alone book.
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This must be the first I've read of Jonathan Carroll—I'd remember this writing style. Where have I been?

He has a great sense of what his characters would do and how they would act. Yet he plunges them into incomprehensible moments and gives those moments plausibility. One film maker, Weber Gregston, learns his friend has committed suicide. This friend, Philip Strayhorn, has left him videotapes which lead him on a journey of discovery and speak to Weber from beyond the grave.

It is a beautifully w
Solid but for the ending, which felt rushed and too neat and briefly wrapped up (I had a "well, of course" moment reading the last few pages). I also wished that the book was in some ways bigger. I wish it had gone further, been more aggressive with its ideas and wackiness, for more given about the minor characters, who were twice as interesting as Weber and Phil. But all that speaks for Carroll's unique aptitude for spinning out delightful, spooky tales that call his readers back again and agai ...more
Jan 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bill by: karen
Another brilliant book by Jonathan Carroll. Part fantasy, part thriller, part horror and all great story and great writing. The kind of book Stephen King wishes he could write.Many thanks to Karen for not only introducing me to this great author but for sending me this book to read.
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
the man is a serious fruitcake, ive read 2 of his books and they are both spookier than a spooky thing happening on a really spooky night
Heather Fineisen
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook
Loved it! Weird, fantastical, thoughtful, spiritual-- Kevin Spacey, where are you????
Sep 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason I wasn’t able to sink fully into the world of Jonathan Carroll like I usually can…but here were a few lovely quotes:

“Whatever, it took an hour of hard walking in the blue lead cold of a New York December for me to really hold in the palm of my mind the fact my best and oldest friend was dead.”

And speaking of being dead…

“There is a life review, of course, but it was so much more interesting than I had ever imagined. For one thing, they show you how and where your life really happe
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this guy’s work. You’re never entirely sure where it’s going but you can’t stop reading and things are never completely resolved in the end. His style is fluid and compelling. The other worlds that are inevitably present are hauntingly believable.
Jasmin Chua
I'll have to re-read this more carefully in a few years; I zipped through the whole thing because I found it an incoherent slog, despite loving Bones of the Moon, which this is a pseudo-sequel to. And the ending was even more abrupt than Jonathan Carroll is usually wont. ...more
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Weird and beautifully written.
Bud Mallar
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bud by: Karen Braissette
This was recommended to my by a young lady I 'follow' named Karen. If I had any idea of how to put in a clickable link in this review to her GR page, I would. This is the cut and paste to her 'page:'

This is most of the note I wrote to her after finishing the book. It serves as a pretty good review also - I think...


Thank you for the recommendation on "A Child Acro
Pam Baddeley
A better read than the last of Carroll's I read - 'Sleeping in Flame' - although it didn't start out promisingly. The main protagonist is Weber Gregston, the film director first introduced in 'Bones of the Moon' and also a minor character in 'Sleeping in Flame'. The book opens with him receiving a call to say his best friend Phil Strayhorn, who also appeared in 'Sleeping in Flame', has killed himself. Weber then goes to see his good friend Cullen James, protagonist of 'Bones of the Moon' and I a ...more
Julie Ambrose
Sep 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
Weber is an urban film professional who's just lost his friend Phil to suicide. In the aftermath he tries to follow mysterious directions given on a video that alters each time a task has been completed. Along this rickety journey into the heart of darkness are tattoos that fly, childhood friends that spring to life, a diminutive guardian angel, and other strange elements aimed at perplexing and disturbing the reader.

What this novel has most in common with isn't magical realism, but slasher-horr
Chris Freeman
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Jonathan Carroll is a strange, strange man if A Child Across the Sky is any indication. I've not read anything else by Carroll yet (I will!) so this novel is all by which I have to judge him. The best characterization I could find of Carroll was when a professional reviewer wrote that "if he had a three part Spanish-sounding name and lived in Latin America, he'd be called a magical realist". If you've read Marquez, you'll have an idea of what you're in for with Carroll, with an American perspect ...more
Dec 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Jonathan Carroll's 4th outing and here we see the development of all the annoying habits that will become a hallmark of most, if not all, of his work to follow: Angels, the nature of evil, and a preoccupation with mortality and death; at least there weren't any talking animals or freakily prescient children(if you don't count the angels, that is.)

Weber Gregston, one of the survivors of Rondua, is summoned to complete the final movie of his longtime friend Philip Strayhorn, who has committed suic
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Book 3 out of 24 for my 2019 reread project...

Of the Jonathan Carroll novels I have reread so far this year, this one is probably my least favorite overall. And yet it was the most exciting. Perhaps I just remembered less of it, but it is certainly a page turner. And in the end it has some interesting things to say about art and those of us who create it. (On one level, the message is pretty questionable and stale - the monsters are monsters sort of statement. On another level, though, there is
"Yowee! Get your real dark forces here! Get'em while they're red hot!"
How deep are you willing to go to create true Art? How close to the edge are you willing to step!A modern telling of Faust set in the world of film. Fasten your seatbelt. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

I don't know why Jonathan Carroll isn't more popular than he is. When I first discovered him in the 90's I was ecstatic. He's so weird! His prose is so lyrical. He's so.... strange. Granted most of his characters can feel like
Jun 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've said this about Jonathan Carroll before but you have to suspend your disbelief that his characters have suspended their disbelief in order to properly enjoy his novels. Ridiculous things happen and everyone assimilates them matter-of-factly whereas in reality they would go insane. This book is no exception. It sets up folk with great relationships, hits them with shit, and stands back to watch what will happen. The more Carroll I read, the more I see the formula, and the more picky I get. H ...more
Stephanie Sun
"When confronted with wonder we usually lie or shut up. We must. Impossible things demand silence for some time at least."

I wish this had been a realist show biz novel, because Carroll (son of Broadway icon June Carroll and The Hustler screenwriter Sidney Carroll!!) has show biz's number and all the unlisted ones as well.

Instead, it is, sigh, magical realist, with a pregnant pre-pubescent who might be the devil, tattoos that come to life and fly out of your back... lots of pretentious pointless
Debra Lilly
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-challenge
I read this book in a week, which is unusual for me, especially since I was juggling other books as well. Carroll writes in a style all his own, in a genre that's somehow in a different dimension from the ones in the book stores: you can call it fantasy, or magical realism, or surrealism, or whatever, but it's just plain creepy. Like his others that I've read, the story starts out firmly planted in our world. But little by little, bit by bit, the wallpaper starts pulling away and you see there a ...more
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
This novel is far beyond even simple categorization, so attempting to label this as "horror", "fantasy" or even "slipstream" will be doing it much disservice. If I could choose a single world to describe this book however, well, it would be 'beautiful'. Delving into what I like to call "practical existentialism", Carroll interweaves (seemingly) conflicting narratives that touch on themes of life, death, love, friendship, purpose, and all that lies between against a backdrop of magic realism.Much ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Oct 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
A Child Across the Sky brought to light a very interesting side of good vs. evil in our lives. Carroll knows how to reach into people, taking the struggles, fears and feelings and give birth to human emotions that often are lacking in characters. As always there is a touch of the surrealin his writing and twists that leave the reader questioning their core beliefs. I always put his books away with a heavy feeling, wishing it could last longer. His books aren't always the easiest to aquire but ar ...more
Kyle Muntz
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was the most ambiguous Carroll novel I've read. It's not as warm as the others, but it has the tightest plotting and it's by far the strangest. I'm still not entirely sure what I read; there are glimpses of that same intense humanity, but this book is much bleaker, more fragmentary, and doesn't have much of a resolution. It's more of a postmodern novel, though I don't know if that's what Carroll intended. Easily his most surreal and creepiest, and this time the mystery is genuinely impenetr ...more
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Wanted to like this more than I did.

I love magical realism when it's done well - A Trip to the Stars by Nicholas Christopher being the most fantastic example of the genre for me. A Child Across the Sky started out with unusual, interesting characters and a fast paced mystery. As I kept reading it really just made me compare it to my impressions of the movie Birdman - compelling at first but once it ended, you weren't exactly sure if it was really good.

I'm going to go with a stellar beginning
Justin Wiebe
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
I give this a "Liked it" rating with some reservations and, honestly, wanted to like it a lot more than I did. I like weird and to a good challenge, but my main hang-up is that I just found myself wondering, "huh...?" too often and going back over already-read material to keep pace (admittedly, though, there's a good chance this comes down to my oft-concussed brain working its magic). I did, however, appreciate Carroll's style/voice and found a number of poignant, indeed, unsettling moments that ...more
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books by Jonathan Carroll. It's one that pops into my thoughts at odd moments, and if I'm in a Carroll mood this (along with The Land of Laughs) is probably the book I'm most likely to grab. This book is deliciously creepy and has some wonderfully evocative dialogue. I know I'll be back to read this book again. Book #68 in the Book a Week in 2012 Challenge from the #WTM boards. ...more
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Jonathan Carroll (b. 1949) is an award-winning American author of modern fantasy and slipstream novels. His debut book, The Land of Laughs (1980), tells the story of a children’s author whose imagination has left the printed page and begun to influence reality. The book introduced several hallmarks of Carroll’s writing, including talking animals and worlds that straddle the thin line between reali ...more

Other books in the series

Answered Prayers (6 books)
  • Bones of the Moon (Answered Prayers, #1)
  • Sleeping in Flame (Answered Prayers, #2)
  • Outside the Dog Museum (Answered Prayers, #4)
  • After Silence (Answered Prayers, #5)
  • From the Teeth of Angels (Answered Prayers, #6)

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