Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Five novels recounted by the dead

Mamta Chaudhry is the author of Haunting Paris: A Novel.

At LitHub she tagged five novels with ghostly narrators, including:
Elliot Ackerman, Waiting for Eden

This taut, spare novel is told by a man who is in a “between space,” after he died on a second deployment to the Middle East, where their Humvee hit a pressure plate. The explosion that killed him left his friend alive but in ruined fragments of his former self. The ghost considers himself “luckier,” and indeed it seems he might have been the more fortunate one when we learn the extent of Eden’s mutilation as he lies in a burn center, with his wife Mary by his bedside.

But the ghost is with them too, “just on that other side, seeing all there is, and waiting.” In this novel, waiting—inherently passive—constitutes the central action, around which everything else revolves. Eden and Mary, no less than the ghost, are in limbo, suspended between neither living fully, nor letting go. In the scalene triangle of friendship, love, and betrayals both big and small that connects Eden to his friend and to his wife, we learn from the ghost the events in the past that have brought them to this point.

There is only one possible ending to the story, and Mary sometimes thinks: “Her husband dying would be a good thing.” But she is the only one who can make the decision to let him go. In a dream, Eden asks his friend if he is indeed going to die, and we learn the limits of the ghost’s omniscience. “I don’t know,” he says.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue