Category Archives: Marion’s Favorite Books

Marion’s favorite books that he has reviewed.

Book Review 103: The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll

“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’ve started the trip, you roll up the windows and breathe through your mouth until you’re done.”

I begin this review with that passage from an early part of The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll. For the readers who have read my reviews over the past year and a half should know Jonathan Carroll has become one of my favorite novelists.  This is the fourth Carroll novel I have reviewed in the same time frame and the first sentence in the aforementioned passage sums up how I feel each time I have read one of his novels.

The Land of Laughs tells of Thomas Abbey, a teacher and son of a famous film star, who gets the chance to write the biography of his favorite children’s book author, Marshall France. Abbey is a zealous fan of the author and jumps at the opportunity to write a biography about him.

Abbey travels to France’s hometown in Galen, Missouri, a small Midwestern town where the author is still the most famous person even years after his death. Everybody in town has a Marshall France story and want to help Abbey with his biography.

So it seems.

Abbey meets Marshall France’s daughter, Anna, who is highly protective of her father’s works and legacy and is unsure about the schoolteacher’s intent with the biography.  Also, Thomas has a companion, Saxony Gardner, who travels with him to Galen and has her own role with the schoolteacher and biography.

This volatile mix as well as Abbey dealing with issues surrounding his father come together in a fascinating and surrealist picture about the power of creativity and imagination.  Can the imagination recreate life?  Can a writer (or any creative person) become a God to the world they have created in their stories?

Those questions kept coming to mind as I read The Land of Laughs.  Carroll gives an interesting perspective in relation those questions and something to ponder on for a while.  However, I will admit that the ending of the novel was a let down.  The ending pulls the story together, but it felt abrupt and somewhat out-of-the blue for the story he was telling.

The Land of Laughs is Jonathan Carroll’s most well-known novel and I can see why for a lot of reasons.  I’m glad I read it and continues to add to my growing appreciation of this unique and interesting author.  But, I will rank it below my favorite Carroll novel, The Wooden Sea, and White Apples.

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Book Review 97: Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

Ned Marriner, the fifteen-year old protagonist in Guy Gavriel Kay’s tenth novel, Ysabel  uncovers a startling discovery in an Aix-en-Provence cathedral.  He is in the Southern France city with his father, a famed photographer who is shooting photos around the city for a new book.  Upon his discovery, Ned gets drawn into an intertwining of… Continue Reading

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Book Review 95: The Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn

Digital Publishing has spawned the rise of the indie author movement over the past several years.  As a result, there is a lot of books these days about how to become a successful indie author and how to make a living with your writing. However, there are only a few of those books dealing with… Continue Reading

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Book Review 94: Deep Work by Cal Newport

“Great creative minds think like artists but work like accountants.” (David Brooks) “When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done.” Those two quotes from Deep Work by Cal Newport summarizes my feelings toward this excellent book. Newport introduces deep work as to counteract the distracted world we live with in the social media… Continue Reading

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Book Review 92: Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

There has not been a novel that caused such discomfort, challenge my assumptions, or made me defensive while reading like Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. It is the sequel to Parable of the Sower and continues Lauren Olamina’s quest to create a new religion, Earthseed, in a believable and frightening post-apocalyptic America reminiscent… Continue Reading

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Book Review 91: Masterminds by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Masterminds is the eighth and final book of the Anniversary Day Saga in the Retrieval Artist Series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. All the threads of the previous seven books in the saga finally comes together as we find out who is the mastermind behind the Anniversary Day Bombings on the Moon’s colony of Armstrong. You… Continue Reading

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Book Review 90: Starbase Human by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Can an old and dilapidated starbase be the key to solving the Moon’s Anniversary Day Bombings and it’s survival? Starbase Human, the seventh book in the Anniversary Day Saga of the Retrieval Artist Series, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch attempted to answer that question. Long ago, this starbase became a clone-testing ground intent on destroying humanity… Continue Reading

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