Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll

I've heard several of my favorite bloggers and friends sing the praises of Jonathan Carroll for awhile now. Namely, Ana (Nymeth) and Nicky (Stormfilled). Two of my very favorite and most trusted readers out there. Yet for some reason, I haven't read anything of his yet! Don't ask me why. I do this sometimes. I saw my chance come by when I saw that as part of Neil Gaiman's new Audible line, he had produced Carroll's book The Land of Laughs. So I downloaded it and have been listening to it during my commute to and home from work.

Wow. I feel like I could just leave my review at that word, but I'll go ahead and expand. It felt so good to feel this way about a book again. I became so immersed in The Land of Laughs. I found myself driving out of my way to sneak in a few extra minutes of the book on audio. I found myself thinking of the book when I wasn't listening to it. I found myself so upset and just craving more when it was over and knowing that there were so many more Carroll stories out there BUT IT WASN'T MORE OF THIS STORY.

I'm still sort of feeling that way. And it's funny that I felt that way because this story itself is all about a man's obsession with a book and just how far that obsession goes. It's the story of Thomas, a young man who has a love for an author named Marshall France who wrote some of his favorite books of all time, one book in particular called, The Land of Laughs. One day while at a used and antiquarian bookstore, he comes across a rare copy of another one of France's books and meets a young woman named Saxony who has already bought it. The two form a friendship and Saxony soon learns that Thomas wants to write a biography of France and with the permission of Thomas starts doing some research on him.

The two drive to France's home town to meet France's daughter, Anna, to try to get permission to write his biography and here is where things get interesting. They make a home for themselves temporarily in the town and slowly, a truly unsettling town is slowly revealed with pieces and clues of France's life around every corner. But there is something lurking underneath it all that's unsettling...something that the reader knows but can't quite figure out, right along with Thomas and Saxony.

There is SO much more to this story. There are the brilliant characters that France creates, like Thomas and Saxony and Anna France and their relationships with each other and their relationships with their own pasts. They're all strong, amazing characters in themselves and truly I'd love to read novels of their own lives. But I feel like the best thing to do is to just give you the basics and let you dive into this one yourself. It's one of the best experiences I've had with a book in a long time. It's one of the best experiences I've ever had with a book, really and I can't wait to try some more of the Neil Gaiman Presents Audible line. I'm sure there are a lot of brilliant things waiting for me there. And needless to say, I'll definitely be reading more Carroll in the future.

What's the BEST audiobook you've listened to? I'm looking for some good ones to listen to on my long drives to work!


Fence said...

I distinctly remember reading this, seeing Carroll recommended on Neil Gaiman's website, but I have very little memory of the book itself.

I do remember the dogs though :)

Must dig it out at some stage and have a reread as I did enjoy it.

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf said...

I remember I was a little indifferent about a Jonathan Carroll I read a while back (The Wooden Sea) but this one sounds really good Chris.

In fact I went back and had a look at my review of The Wooden Sea, and Nikki gives this one a pretty big shout-out in the comments! ;)

Debi said...

Wow, this does sound pretty damn good! I haven't read any of his books yet, though thanks to Ana I do own three of them. <---LOL, wonder just how many authors I could "ditto" that comment about. :P