- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: TOR; 1st edition (February 10, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312873115
- ISBN-13: 978-0312873110
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 74 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #683,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Land of Laughs Paperback – February 10, 2001
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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
“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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Together the happy couple arrive in Galen and instead of the cold shoulder they were expecting they are received with open arms, even France's daughter, Anna, is happy they are there. Pretty soon Anna lets Abbey have access to all of France's materials, i.e., letters, postcards, journals, old pictures, any and everything available. But before long Thomas and Saxony realize this town is not what it seems. The magic of Marshall France has reached far beyond the printed page. It becomes quite a page turner after this with ups and downs and the reader wondering what is going to happen next.
I understand that this is a reprint of his 1980 book but it is still fresh, timely and inventive. Carroll is a wonderful writer and I am so glad I have found him and can't wait to read his other novels. I don't care if you haven't read a book in 10 years or more you must go out and find a copy of "The Land of Laughs" and read it immediately, you will not be disappointed.
Thomas Abby doesn’t know about any of this, all he knows is that he loves the works of Marshall France, thinks France is the greatest writer who has ever lived. Wants to write his biography. He has a relationship with a young woman, another “Francophile” named Saxony. Together they go to Galen seeking permission to write the bio. The author’s daughter, Anna, turns out to be sweet, charming, sexy, seductive and very willing to let Thomas tell her father’s story. Abby dives into it enthusiastically, and that’s when things in the little town start to become unusual, then mysterious, and then deadly dangerous.
Carroll uses an unassuming narrative style that feels right in describing the rural life of a Midwestern town. Thomas Abby is quite direct in confiding his initial excitement and later his confusion, ambivalence, and growing fears. The inventive plot-surprises suck you in and keep you turning pages. There are moments of simple but amazing hilarity. But above all, it’s the characters and their interaction in the face of a topsy-turvy world that are so entertaining.
The godlike nature of authors is something a lot of authors like to write about, of course. The idea that their characters become real isn’t new either. What is unique here are the characters themselves, their seemingly straightforward uncomplicated relationships that you just don’t understand fully until the very end. Also, the events are surprisingly unexpected, never seem to add up but finally do… perfectly. THE LAND OF LAUGHS is a very easy and rewarding read, one that’s very difficult to put down or stop thinking about.
This is the story of Thomas Abbey, the slightly embittered son of a famous actor who now teaches literature at a private school. Thomas is bored and withering when he hits upon an idea that gets his juices flowing again -- he will write a biography of the author who helped him through his childhood -- an eccentric recluse who created wondrous worlds populated by extraordinary characters (much like Carroll himself). Shortly before he embarks on a working pilgrimage to the small Missouri hometown of the late author, Thomas meets an interesting, if vexing, woman who also loves the author, and she insinuates herself into the trip but also proves to be an invaluable assistant and sounding board as things in the small town get weird and weirder still.
This novel has been likened to the Twilight Zone and Carroll's works in general have been called American magical realism. Both characterizations seem apt, but incomplete. Carroll is a wonderful writer for any genre, and you''ll be doing yourself a favor by getting to know this gifted author. It all started here!
Also, check out the author's web site, complete with plays and short stories, at: jonathancarroll.com
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Laughable sexual content (the review doesn't have this as an option.Read more