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The Land of Laughs Paperback – February 10, 2001
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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
“Jonathan Carroll is a cult waiting to happen.” ―Pat Conroy
“The Land of Laughs is a book for anyone who has ever believed that a favorite book could be a safe place to go when things get hard.” ―Neil Gaiman
“I envy anyone who has yet to enjoy the sexy, eerie, and addictive novels of Jonathan Carroll. They are delicious treats--with devilish tricks inside them.” ―The Washington Post
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Top Customer Reviews
As a previous reviewer stated, the basic plot of THE LAND OF LAUGHS (someone finding out the so-called "fantasy" world of a noted children's book author is real...and deadly) has been well used since this novel was published. But Carroll's remains the best. Most people, upon growing up, seem to forget how truly dark many of those children's fantasy stories were. But Carroll never forgot, which is perhaps what makes THE LAND OF LAUGHS so successful.
This is a "must read" for any fan of horror, fantasy or just plain ole good fiction. And for similar reads, check out William Browning Spencer's ZOD WALLOP and STRANGEWOOD by Christopher Golden.
Like Neil Gaiman , I am a huge fan of Jonathan Carroll, but of all his works, this novel has particular resonance for me. It suggests that our lives, our selves, even, to a great extent, our world, are largely products of our influence on them. That we are the authors of our own story; we collaborate with our histories to create ourselves and thus the past is as mutable as our relationship with it. The book is chock full of symbolism that deftly illustrates its twin themes of self-invention (e.g., Abbey is a collector of masks) and self-determination (e.g., his lover, Saxony, a maker of elaborate marionettes).
This is a vigorous, engaging read told in a naturalistic, matter-of-fact style that belies the tension and horror lurking just beneath the surface. The characters are well-fleshed out and human with relatable, believable motivations. And despite a shocking climax, at least the denouement allows Thomas Abbey to finally make peace with his past and even find ways to make use of it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I often think that no one ever feels more like god than the author of a novel. An author creates characters, gives them their destiny, essence, their very souls; creates places and... Read morePublished 8 days ago by N. Iuppa
Not my cup of tea. Really disliked the narrator--was that the author's intention?
Laughable sexual content (the review doesn't have this as an option. Read more
This was the first Carroll novel that I read, and I will be following up with his later work as a result. Read morePublished 1 month ago by A. Reader
I couldn't put it down! The ending blew me away. I will be reading all of Jonathan Carroll's novels.Published 4 months ago by Teri L. Kelley
5 stars just because it's Jonathan Carroll - there isn't anything he writes that won't carry me through a long train ride. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ginger Purvis
Wow. Excellent story, what a great find Jonathan Carroll is!! There's a heck of a twist at the very very very epilogue-end - the book was well worth it long before that, but that... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jill-Elizabeth (Jill Franclemont)