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The Wooden Sea: A Novel by Jonathan Carroll

The Wooden Sea: A Novel (edition 2002)

by Jonathan Carroll

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7261812,927 (3.7)23
Title:The Wooden Sea: A Novel
Authors:Jonathan Carroll
Info:Tor Books (2002), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fantasy, Unread

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The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll



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I’ve spent the last month of 2015 reading three novels by Jonathan Carroll. The Wooden Sea is the third of the Carroll novels I’ve read. You can look at the reviews of the other two Carroll novels: White Apples and Glass Soup here. I will admit after reading these novels that Jonathan Carroll has joined my must read author list. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these works and they have shown me how far the boundaries of fantasy fiction can extend.

The Wooden Sea is the story of small town police chief, Frannie McCabe of Crane’s View, New York. Chief McCabe has a three-legged dog that drops dead in front of him and the event takes him on a life-altering ride throughout the novel unveiling the true meaning of love and sacrifice.

I could not help but think of this passage of scripture from 1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. {1 Corinthians 13:1-8 The Message Bible}

The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians in that passage of New Testament Scripture what the true meaning of love is in 1st century Greek Culture. It seems to me by happenstance that Carroll has woven the same theme in the Wooden Sea (as well as White Apples & Glass Soup). The Wooden Sea would never be mistaken for a Christian novel, but there is spiritual resonance along with touches of the surrealistic and fantastic interwoven together making it a surprising novel with emotion and depth.

The only issue I had with the novel was the ending. The abrupt ending of the novel left me wanting more time with Chief McCabe and his wife, Magda. However, this novel was my favorite of the Carroll novels and I will give it my highest recommendation as one of my best reads of 2015. ( )
  Kammbia1 | Jan 3, 2016 |
Wow. From the 15th most traveled bookray on bookcrossing. Suspend disbelief and just go along for the ride. Frannie is a 47yo police chief in calm Crane's View. But things are not as orderly as they seem. First, there's a homeless dog that Frannie takes in, and when it dies, refuses to stay buried. Then a feather keeps appearing and disappearing. Then things start happening - Frannie younger hoodlum self appears, the town goes backwards and forwards, but only he can see it - and another being appears that says Frannie must find the fourth thing - whatever that is - to save the world. "How do you cross a wooden sea? I still do not know the answer.....nothing is more important than keeping every one of our individual selves alive.....Not know thyself, but know thy self." Interestingly, when I logged the book on librarything, it's the third book in a trilogy. It doesn't read like part of a series. Now off to France for the next reader! ( )
  nancynova | Feb 5, 2015 |
If Joseph C. Lincoln had set down to write The Man Who Folded Himself he would have come up with this. Fran, a small town chief of police, has found himself in the middle of a time traveling mystery / conspiracy where the fate of Crane's View rests on his ability to sort things out. The first chapter didn't do much for me but by the second chapter the quirky plot began to surface. By the third chapter I was hooked all the way through the epilogue which seemed like a tidy albeit somewhat ambiguous (as many time travel books are) ending. ( )
  pussreboots | Oct 25, 2014 |
I like how, well, weird this book was - the plot was endlessly captivating ... until it became confusing. I like a book that leaves the reader thinking, but this one did that and then some. I just wish a it had a bit fewer loose ends. ( )
  aea2142 | Jan 18, 2014 |
I'm not much into sci-fi, time travel, or any of that genre, but I had this book as part of a bookray from Bookcrossing, so felt obliged to read it and pass it along.

Wow. What a read. Frannie (I suppose Francis) McCabe is the police chief of a small town in the Hudson Valley, and strange things start happening as soon as he takes in a three-legged brindled pit-bull mix who proceeds to die in his office. A dog that won't stay buried. A feather no bird has ever grown. An old bone. And then Fran's an old man in Austria, and then he meets his young, bad-ass 17 year old rebellious self. And - and - and.

Underneath it all is a love of small-town life, the particulars of people in a community, the private workings of a marriage, the secrets of the universe, and a common-sense, self-aware narrator who is never so surprised that he can't include the reader in the scene.

Funny, profane, grave, joyful. How satisfying it all is. ( )
2 vote ffortsa | Sep 3, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jonathan Carrollprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
塔, 円城解説secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olbinski,RafalCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0765300133, Paperback)

Frannie McCabe was an obnoxious juvenile delinquent in his teens, but has settled down into comfortable middle age in the small town of Crane's View as its chief of police; like other Jonathan Carroll protagonists, the hero of The Wooden Sea is about to find himself caught up in uncanny goings-on. First a dog walks into his office and drops dead--more importantly, it will not stay buried. Then a quarreling couple simply disappears, and then Frannie finds himself haunted by his younger, more abrasive self, and by visions of the last day of his life, as an old man about to be knocked down by a motorbike in Vienna.

What all this means and what lessons Frannie is supposed to take from it all are where the questions lie; anyone who has read an earlier Carroll novel will know the sorts of thing that are liable to happen, the sorts of thing that they are likely to mean--but any reader of an earlier Carroll novel will almost certainly be buying any of his books they can get hold of, anyway. This is an inventive and moving fantasy by a writer who more or less defined dark fantasy as a critical term. --Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:55 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"From the moment a three-legged dog limps into the comfortable life of Police Chief Frannie McCabe and drops dead at his feet, McCabe finds himself thrust into a new world of unaccountable miracles and disturbing wonders. The small town of Crane's View, New York, has long been a reassuringly familiar place for Frannie, a haven full of small comforts and domestic harmony, but now he finds himself afflicted by strange and inexplicable omens, such as a mysterious, multicolored feather that keeps insinuating itself into his past, present, and future, all of which now converge to throw Frannie's once ordinary life into doubt. Like it or not, Frannie has come face-to-face with the uncanny, and what he does over the next few days may have unforeseen consequences for the entire world."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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