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The Resurrectionist
Jack O'Connell
Narrated by Holter Graham, unabridged
HighBridge Audio, 11 hours, 30 minutes

The Resurrectionist
Jack O'Connell
Jack O'Connell is the author of four critically acclaimed novels (The Skin Palace, Word Made Flesh, Wireless and Box Nine), which have earned him something of a cult status. His work has been praised by James Ellroy, Nail Gaiman, Katherine Dunn and Jonathan Carroll, among others. He lives with his wife and two children in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Jack O'Connell Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jennifer McCann

Told in alternating story lines, The Resurrectionist is the tale of Sweeney, a father who has brought his comatose young son, Danny, to the Peck Clinic in hopes of a miracle. Sweeney seems to just exist in his space, as his life revolves around the care and cure of Danny. Working in the Peck's basement pharmacy, Sweeney frequently visits his son's bedside to read from Danny's favorite comic book series, "Limbo." Sweeney floats through his day in a haze of anger and lack of sleep. His forays out into the clinic proper and town are met with hostile and often confrontational results. He is a man lost. Characters come into Sweeney's life, such as the haughty Dr. Peck and his physician daughter, Alice. Both provide hope but have very different motives in offering friendship. Danny's nurse, Nadia, leads another life as the "Wendy" to a biker gang called the Abominations and becomes the catalyst for change in Sweeney's life. Although her motivation is never truly explained or fulfilled, she introduces him to Buzz Coat, the leader and father figure to the Abominations whose quick temper and cool dispensing of biker justice leave one wondering if he is friend or foe. He is one of the best characters is the story. He is complex and volatile, but still cuddly in a pit bull kind of way. Other characters slide in and out of the story but seem to be just window treatment because their purpose is unclear.

The other plotline explores the comic book world of Limbo. It's the story of Carnival type freaks journeying to the land of Old Bohemia in hopes of a better life. After being forced to flee from the only sideshow and life he has ever known, the Chicken Boy and his fellow physical misfits travel through the land of Ghenna trying to survive the wrath of greedy sea captains and murderous Indian chiefs. Along the way they make strange allies and face peril at every turn. Within the book, the reality of Limbo is so much richer and "real" than that of the Peck clinic. Much as Sweeney himself, trying to escape into the pages of Limbo, listeners will also find that mythical place is so much more colorful and fulfilling than the gray, sad, lonely atmosphere of the Peck Clinic. Both tales collide in the mind of both father and son as they try to come to terms with the tragedy of loss and regret. As Limbo and the Peck merge in the mind of Sweeney, the reader is carried into a bizarre and often muddy combination of the two. The meanings of the images lose some of their poignancy with the half finished thoughts of the author. In a lot of ways The Resurrectionist gives the feeling of being haphazardly thrown together. There are several dangling plotlines crying to be made into more. But with sideshow freaks, biker gangs and sinister medical professionals, The Resurrectionist is still a highly entertaining adventure into the mind of the unknown.

Holter Graham does a fabulous job as reader. His experience in television shows such as Rescue Me and Law and Order, as well as films such as Fly Away Home and Cry Baby have paid off. The use of accent and intonation to portray this large cast of varying characters is very well done and very believable. The narrator makes this story work in many ways. The muddled and often confusing dialogue would be terrible to follow if not for Graham's accents; the listener never has trouble following who is speaking. He hits an American Indian accent with the true tone of a native and his British and Soviet region accents are spot on. As often is the case, males reading as females can be off-putting, but Graham keeps the feminine from becoming campy. Overall, he does a terrific job, using his pleasant and melodious voice to seamlessly draw the listener into the story.

Copyright © 2008 Jennifer McCann

A belly dancing, dyslexic wife and mother who in her spare time works as a library clerk. A full and rich life is lead through the books she listens to and/or reads. Dyslexics Untie!

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