‘Mr Fiddlehead’ by Jonathan Carroll

Carroll is high on the list of the planet’s underappreciated gems. He is another serious voice writer, as demonstrated in such finely sculpted novels as Bones of the Moon and Outside the Dog Museum. He is also a quirky bastard – that voice, enchanting as it is, won’t soothe every savage breast. He is sometimes guilty of the critical accusation of walking a shaggy terrier down his mean narrative streets. But, oh that prose!

Nothing shaggy about ‘Mr Fiddlehead’. It is a delightful (and dark) play on a familiar theme: an invisible childhood friend comes to life. Like all of Carroll’s work, it glitters with honed observations of people and places.

And fountain pens – a minor obsession of my own – figure in the story. So what could be bad?

First published in Omni, Feb 1989, and collected in Carrol’s The Panic Hand, HarperCollins, 1995

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