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The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll

The Land of Laughs (1980)

by Jonathan Carroll

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,251389,705 (3.9)86

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» See also 86 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 38 (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 |
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 |
Enjoyable read ... difficult to describe without giving too much away ... a nicely twisted story! ( )
1 vote GeetuM | Jun 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carroll, JonathanAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hermstein, RudolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marsh, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mattingly, David B.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
For June, who is the best of all New Faces, and for Beverly —The Queen of All
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"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 -"
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)

Have you ever loved a magical book above all others? Have you ever wished the magic were real? Welcome toThe Land of Laughs. A novel about how terrifying that would be. Schoolteacher Thomas Abbey, unsure son of a film star, doesn't know who he is or what he wants--in life, in love, or in his relationship with the strange and intense Saxony Gardner. What he knows is that in his whole life nothing has touched him so deeply as the novels of Marshall France, a reclusive author of fabulous children's tales who died at forty-four. Now Thomas and Saxony have come to France's hometown, the dreamy Midwestern town of Galen, Missouri, to write France's biography. Warned in advance that France's family may oppose them, they're surprised to find France's daughter warmly welcoming instead. But slowly they begin to see that something fantastic and horrible is happening. The magic of Marshall France has extended far beyond the printed page...leaving them with a terrifying task to undertake.… (more)

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