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Pulitzer Prize nominee Thomas Sullivan has been a gambler, a "Rube Goldberg" innovator, a coach, a teacher, a city commissioner, and an All-American athlete. Having lived in a dozen countries by the time he was six, Sullivan is at home in many cultures and across the literary spectrum from mainstream to genre. The Chicago Tribune introduced him as, "…a John Barth or a John Irving, with a touch of William Gaddis and maybe a dash of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr." Over 90 publishing credits in all fiction categories, his work includes eight novels in 22 domestic and foreign editions, journalism, non-fiction and active film options. Sullivan currently lives on a lake in Maple Grove, Minnesota, writing full-time and speaking internationally in venues as diverse as the House of Literature in Oslo, Norway, and American schools and universities. His inspirational monthly newsletter (Sullygram) is available free on request. Write him at mn333mn@earthlink.net

Second Soul by Thomas Sullivan

"Whatever was, is, and shall be is my enemy. If it has cells, if it needs light or air or water, it loses control when I'm near. I am profoundly wrong for this world. I will never be able to hide in a crowd…." This is Bowie, a skier who returns from clinical death after an accident in which 19 others have died. Or does he return? Caught at a crossroads between life and death, struggling to sort out his mortality, Bowie must figure out exactly what has stormed the gates behind him. Relationships are central – new ones, old ones, ones that cannot possibly be but are. And gradually he discovers that the stakes are far more than just his own destiny. A cosmic dimension is opening with terrifying speed, something with apocalyptic consequences that will quite literally tear his soul apart.

CURATOR'S NOTE

Some works of fiction, such as Thomas Sullivan's Second Soul hinge on the defining moments that make and change our lives. One stark moment of clarity – one moment of shared time with Schröedinger's Cat – and neither life, nor death, is ever the same again. A deeply internal, totally terrifying novel. – David Niall Wilson

 

REVIEWS

  • "I've been reading Thomas Sullivan's novels in the order they were published, and just finished SECOND SOUL yesterday. The man just keeps getting better and better with each new book - this is novel number six - THE WATER WOLF is number seven and I'm chomping at the bit to get to that one now.
    SECOND SOUL is one of those rare books that I feel like pulling out a highlighter to mark up all the great passages that I'll want to return to again and again. Fact is, I have a book fetish that prevents me defacing them that way, but there's just so much outstandingly fine writing there that I wish it weren't so. Not that it will be hard to find the good parts in the future -- there are so many "good parts" that I'll just reread the whole thing, and it will be time well spent.
    What a great concept for a story, and such masterful execution to bring that story to the page. "Sully" is such a wizard of the language - those big-name best-selling giants of the genre got nothing on him, talent-wise. My fervent wish is that he keeps at it, and writes his stories, going wherever his muse takes him, ignoring genre boundaries and just writing what needs to be written. I'll follow him anywhere -- mainstream, genre, I don't care. It's how he tells the story, it's not about the theme or plot. He tells stories like Fabergé made eggs - exquisitely crafted, each one unique and beautiful and of the finest kind, and I'm eternally grateful to him for sharing."

    Amazon Review
  • "You want to read something different, intelligent and unique - don't know where the story is going and good twist and all then this is the book, actually, this is THE author!"

    Amazon Review
  • "I stood in line for Harry Potter and I'd stand in line for this. Not that there is a lot of similarity besides the deliciously magical atmosphere of both reads, but I've been a fan of Sullivan's other books and this one is as good or better than THE MARTYRING and DUST OF EDEN. It's a lot more psychological though. Bowie, the main character, comes back from near-death with a whole gallery of people who died. Gradually he gets caught up in the hopes and fears of their surviving families (especially the wife of one of them). But behind it all is a character who represents something much bigger than just the human drama. The suspense is far ranging and incredibly imaginative. And as with his other books the author makes it all come together with a lot of surprises and twists. If you like deep characters and lots of excitement, this one will keep you reading."

    Amazon Review
  • "I like genre fiction but only if it is well-written. This one fills the bill. The author has a very captivating style, and you can see right away why he keeps getting literary recognition. But this book is a bit different from the others I've read of Sullivan's. It has a first person narrator, and a very unusual one at that. "Bowie" may be alive or dead, and he may be insane. The stakes keep getting higher as trusted things turn against him and he forms a relationship with a widow who believes her husband can come back through him. But both of them are then targeted by forces beyond the fates of any individuals. An intriguing character known as "Mr. Freeze" keeps coming back into the story until his terrible significance is understood. The ending builds with riveting excitement and meaning. This is a very satisfying book."

    Amazon Review
  • "This novel will undoubtedly be considered a "horror novel," or "dark fantasy," but to shelve it as such is a travesty. In Second Soul we relive a terrifying near-death experience that changes the protagonist in ways neither he, his self-help, occult student friend a new boss at the ski-lodge, or the wives and ghosts who shared that defining moment can explain. Sullivan knows hot to take a character apart at the seams and let the pain leak out through the seams. This is a novel about a man losing and finding himself, the variations on grief, and ice. Lots of ice, snow - skiing and bugs. I hate bugs...after reading this you will hate them a little more. Bears are scary too.
    Don't miss this one - it will stick with you for a long time to come."

    Amazon Review
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

I see myself sitting in a chair, staring off into space, grinning. I never grin. But now I'm grinning, and that's what makes it so unreal. The terrible comedic aspect of my expression makes me look like a mannequin. The dreaming me can't stand this, and I grab up the metal candlesnuffer, which has somehow migrated from the dream about the church, and I start whacking away. There is so little resistance that I cleave off part of my face. What is revealed sickens me, because where my face is torn away there are cells and galleries, like a beehive. And in each cell there is a squirming larva.

Sometimes I can't keep my meals down, because it feels like I'm feeding a metamorphosis inside me. Those dark weeks in November when I was in and out of coma were an incubation for whatever followed me back from the waterfall. It took me somewhere. Coma dreams. If I could remember the details, I think I could untangle the reality. But it's like coming back from a long trip and finding a massive tree in your front yard whose roots are inaccessible.

The first night of consciousness that hangs together from the lost weeks of coma is even more disturbing, because I know it really happened. There are voices – two nurses – and a sense of formal geometry. I notice the walls, the floor, the ceiling, as if they've just arrived. I feel like I'm coming out of anesthesia – a little jolt, nausea. My nose burns, my eyes smart. The voices are piercing, and the bed sheets feel like sandpaper when I move my hands. I ache with acuity, but it's a delicious pain, like scratching an itch until it bleeds. The nurses speak to me as if they've spoken to me before, but I don't recognize them.

"My, my, aren't we active tonight," one says. "What have you been doing, trying to get out the window?"

I squint at the long pane that spans one wall. There are orange lights on the roof of another wing that catch the glass in such a way that you can see finger smears and palm prints from one end to the other.

"In case you can't tell, we're five stories up," says the nurse.

"Are you thirsty?" the other asks. "We've got to get you off this IV."

While one checks the underside of my wrist where a needle is taped, the other gives me sips from a squeeze bottle. The water leaves me gasping.

"'Nough, 'nough," says the nurse. "You're out of practice."

When they leave, I stare at the prints that run the length of the windowpane. I feel so weak, how could I have gotten up and done that? And what was on my hands to make such smears? The orange lights from outside high up on the building neutralize any color on the glass, but here and there, with my heightened vision, I detect traces of what looks like blood. Or ashes. I want to get up and examine the smears, but I don't have the strength.

Some time in the night it begins to snow – a wet, slushy snow. I watch it pelt the glass until dawn. And when it's dry and daylight, and a new shift has come on the ward, the window of my room is clean. The prints have been washed away . . . because they were on the outside.