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The Land of Laughs (Fantasy Masterworks) by…
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The Land of Laughs (Fantasy Masterworks) (original 1980; edition 2000)

by Jonathan Carroll

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1,228399,362 (3.91)85
Member:konallis
Title:The Land of Laughs (Fantasy Masterworks)
Authors:Jonathan Carroll
Info:Gollancz (2000), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:fantasy, read 2009

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The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll (1980)

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» See also 85 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
I don't think I can really top Karen's review, but I still want to offer one of my own...

Jonas gave me a lovely stack of [a:Jonathan Carroll|23704|Jonathan Carroll|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1222900262p2/23704.jpg] books which I promptly refused to read for fear of devouring them far too quickly. My fears were certainly well founded, as I read this one far too quickly...

Anyway. [b:Land of Laughs|42143|The Land of Laughs|Jonathan Carroll|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388472821s/42143.jpg|495086] is a bit unpolished, it's obviously a first novel - and you know that? That's fine. [a:Jonathan Carroll|23704|Jonathan Carroll|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1222900262p2/23704.jpg] is still [a:Jonathan Carroll|23704|Jonathan Carroll|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1222900262p2/23704.jpg] and the excerpts he offers from the fictional French's children books make me wish that I could read them.

While the story itself is a bit on the predictable side, it really doesn't matter. I was entranced and like the blurb on the back of my copy says, by the time they got to Galen there was no way I was putting it down. It infected my mind and I found myself thinking of it constantly and wanting to get back to it.

There's something about reading Carroll that is downright magical, and the [b:Land of Laughs|42143|The Land of Laughs|Jonathan Carroll|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388472821s/42143.jpg|495086] even with its at times clumsy sentences is every bit as magical as any other book or story of his. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
“Reading a book, for me at least, is like traveling in someone else’s world. If it’s a good book, then you feel comfortable and yet anxious to see what’s going to happen to you there, what’ll be around the next corner. But if it’s a lousy book, then it’s like going through Secaucus, New Jersey—it smells and you wish you weren’t there, but since you’ve started the trip, you roll up the windows and breathe through your mouth until you’re done.”

I begin this review with that passage from an early part of The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll. For the readers who have read my reviews over the past year and a half should know Jonathan Carroll has become one of my favorite novelists. This is the fourth Carroll novel I have reviewed in the same time frame and the first sentence in the aforementioned passage sums up how I feel each time I have read one of his novels.

The Land of Laughs tells of Thomas Abbey, a teacher and son of a famous film star, who gets the chance to write the biography of his favorite children’s book author, Marshall France. Abbey is a zealous fan of the author and jumps at the opportunity to write a biography about him.

Abbey travels to France’s hometown in Galen, Missouri, a small Midwestern town where the author is still the most famous person even years after his death. Everybody in town has a Marshall France story and want to help Abbey with his biography.

So it seems.

Abbey meets Marshall France’s daughter, Anna, who is highly protective of her father’s works and legacy and is unsure about the schoolteacher’s intent with the biography. Also, Thomas has a companion, Saxony Gardner, who travels with him to Galen and has her own role with the schoolteacher and biography.

This volatile mix as well as Abbey dealing with issues surrounding his father come together in a fascinating and surrealist picture about the power of creativity and imagination. Can the imagination recreate life? Can a writer (or any creative person) become a God to the world they have created in their stories?

Those questions kept coming to mind as I read The Land of Laughs. Carroll gives an interesting perspective in relation those questions and something to ponder on for a while. However, I will admit that the ending of the novel was a let down. The ending pulls the story together, but it felt abrupt and somewhat out-of-the blue for the story he was telling.

The Land of Laughs is Jonathan Carroll’s most well-known novel and I can see why for a lot of reasons. I’m glad I read it and continues to add to my growing appreciation of this unique and interesting author. But, I will rank it below my favorite Carroll novel, The Wooden Sea, and White Apples. ( )
  kammbiamh | Mar 25, 2018 |
When I start dreading starting a book, it's time to give up on it. Half way through and it was still wandering. And I don't like the main character. He's a jerk. ( )
  Kitty.Cunningham | Jul 19, 2017 |
terrible ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
Jonathan Carroll's first novel is a very accomplished mix of fantasy and horror, laced with dark humour. The story of Thomas Abbey, son of dead Hollywood actor Stephen Abbey, who makes a living as an English teacher while harbouring a deep resentment towards his famous father. A chance meeting at a bookstore leads him to a woman named Saxony and the possibility of writing a biography of dead children's author Marshall France, a figure of obsession for both Thomas and Sax.

Seeking permission for the book from France's daughter Anna, Thomas and Sax, by now lovers, wash up in Galen, hometown of Marshall. And slowly things begin to get weird. The town seems preserved in Amber, it's citizens reacting strangely to tragedies. Anna and Thomas become lovers, the biography progresses and slowly Galen's secrets are revealed to Thomas.

Carroll's prose is very easy to read and the spiral down into strangeness and horror is very well handled. The characters are well drawn and a creeping sense of horror pervades the latter stages of the novel. The ending is surreal and disturbing.

Superb storytelling and a great introduction to the work of Mr Carroll. Recommended. ( )
1 vote David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jonathan Carrollprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hermstein, RudolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marsh, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mattingly, David B.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
-Flaubert
Dedication
For June, who is the best of all New Faces, and for Beverly —The Queen of All
First words
"Look, Thomas, I know you've probably been asked this question a million times before, but what was it really like to be Stephen Abbey's -"
Quotations
The Land of Laughs was lit by eyes that saw the lights that no one's seen.
Reading a book, for me at least, is like traveling in someone else’s world. If it’s a good book, then you feel comfortable and yet anxious to see what’s going to happen to you there, what’ll be around the next corner. But if it’s a lousy book, then it’s like going through Secaucus, New Jersey--it smells and you wish you weren’t there, but since you started the trip, you roll up the windows and breathe through your mouth until you’re done.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312873115, Paperback)

Thomas Abbey is a man stuck in a rut. An English teacher in a small Connecticut prep school, Abbey is in a crisis. His career is unfulfilling, he has no social or love life to speak of, and he cannot break out of the shadow of his famous father, the actor Stephen Abbey. To kick-start his life, he takes a sabbatical to work on a biography of his favorite writer, Marshall France. France's books were the only thing that kept Abbey sane during his childhood, and though he was renowned for his lyrical and imaginative children's books, nearly nothing was known about the writer's life.

Although Abbey has been warned that France's daughter Anna has blocked all previous attempts at her father's biography, he and Saxony Garder--an intense woman also obsessed with France's life--head to Galen, Missouri, with high hopes of breaking down Anna's resistance. They are surprised to find Anna the soul of small-town hospitality and quite excited about Abbey's proposal--even eager to get the project finished as soon as possible. Even stranger than Anna's behavior is the town of Galen itself. On the surface, all is as a small midwestern town should be. But the people of the town seem to know what their future holds--freak accidents and all--down to the hour and are as eager for Abbey to finish the biography as Anna is.

As far as plot goes, The Land of Laughs doesn't break any new ground--it is a riff on a very old literary theme--and the more interesting issues the story raises--fate, free will, and the creative power of the written word--receive only a glancing blow as the story careens to its somewhat unsatisfying Gothic ending. That said, Carroll does show a good ear for dialogue and a deft hand at creating complex characters and quietly ominous moods. And the story--hoary plot line and all--immediately grabs you and doesn't let go. If you already know Jonathan Carroll from his other novels, you will want to add this reissue of his first novel to your library. And if you haven't yet been introduced to this inventive author, The Land of Laughs is the perfect place to begin. --Perry M. Atterberry

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:02 -0400)

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