The World I Made for Her

Thomas Moran, Author Riverhead Books $23.95 (273p) ISBN 978-1-57322-084-2
Like a depoliticized Johnny Got His Gun, investigative journalist Moran's eerily affecting second novel (following The Man in the Box) takes readers inside the preternaturally fertile mind of a wrecked and nearly noncommunicative body. James Blatchley, a Columbia art history student who's an NYPD art cop specializing in art theft and forgery, is cut down not by a criminal's bullet or HIV (which figures prominently as a metaphor) but by a particularly wicked strain of chicken pox that leaves him irreversibly brain-damaged, gasping through tubes and drifting in and out of comas. Unable to speak and capable only of limited movement, James combats the pain and anguish of his endless ICU stay by mouthing flirtatious come-ons to Brigit, a sassy nurse addicted to fentanyl, and by imagining the life-story of Nuala, a lovely Irish nurse whose dedication to her hopeless-case patient at first offers distraction from her own damaged past. Nuala's role as caregiver grows more complex when James begins to enter her dreams--and even her apartment--from the feverish confines of his sickbed. Spooked by their psychic connection, Nuala alternately rejects and clings to James, as nurse and patient lose sight of the doom that hangs over him. Moran relates the nightmarish predicament of his empathic characters in hypnotic prose that remains compelling right up until the final scene, which never quite resolves the narrative problems set by what precedes it. Even with its supernatural knots untied, Moran's poetic, cruel yet forgiving love story will not easily be forgotten. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
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