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The Wooden Sea

(Crane's View #3)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,182 ratings  ·  174 reviews
From the moment a three-legged dog limps into the life of Police Chief Frannie McCabe and drops dead at his feet, McCabe finds himself in a new world of disturbing miracles. His small town of Crane's View, New York has long been a haven of harmony and comfort--but now he finds himself afflicted by the inexplicable, by omens that converge to throw his life into doubt. And w ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 9th 2002 by Tor Books (first published 2001)
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J.L. The 3 Crane's View books take place in the same town and have a few overlapping characters, but each book works fine as a standalone. The previous boo…moreThe 3 Crane's View books take place in the same town and have a few overlapping characters, but each book works fine as a standalone. The previous books are barely referenced in the subsequent ones.(less)

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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  2,182 ratings  ·  174 reviews

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Jul 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It's rare these days that a book "has me from hello" (to paraphrase a cheesy line from a *urp* Tom Cruise movie), but this one did. Check out the first two paragraphs:

"Never buy yellow clothes or cheap leather. That's my credo and there are more. Know what I like to see? People killing themselves. Don't misunderstand; I'm not talking about the poor fucks who jump out windows or stick their sorry heads into plastic bags forever. No "Ultimate Fighting Championship" either, which is only a bunch
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ivan by: Kristijan
It's nice to re-read one of your favorite books after few years and find it just as great as first time around. ...more
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Well dang. After being utterly and completely entranced with The Land of Laughs by Carroll I gave this one a spin, and it fell flat. It was interesting enough to keep reading, but this is one that I won't remember the details to in just a few short months. Nothing really caught my attention, nothing compelled me and dragged me along.

I think the thing that put me off was that there were no rules to the madness he presented here. The Land of Laughs might not have had many rules, but it also might
Mar 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
i am simultaneously amused and bemused by jonathan carroll's books. they make so much sense and nonsense at the same time.

they also remind me of one of my favourite poems, by stephen crane:

Many red devils ran from my heart
And out upon the page,
They were so tiny
The pen could mash them.
And many struggled in the ink.
It was strange
To write in this red muck
Of things from my heart.

Brian Anderson
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting story with a "heart-warming" message to tell. I use the air quotes there because the message felt somewhat forced to me, with the author basically spelling it out for the reader at the end of the book. I think if it had been worked into the story more effectively, it would have made for a much more satisfying read. Despite this, I thought the story and characters were interesting and well developed, and the intricacies of the plot and the jumps through time were easy to follow and ...more
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, own, fiction, mars-book
This is one of the rare books that causes you to pause and ask yourself "What am I reading?" Not once, not twice, but a minimum of at least three times. The Wooden Sea is not a book for everyone; not even a book for most people.

Carroll's writing is utterly shameless. He writes for himself entirely, and what comes out is a set of characters incredibly well-defined. His setting, his characters, the surrealistic nature of his plot and universe itself all come off as incredibly reasonable. He bumps
Roger Bailey
This is one strange book, strange like a dream. In the literature of the fantastic strange happenings in a small town is a common theme, but in this one the strange is taken another step. The entire book is like one continuous dream. For example, there is an instance in which the protagonist gets out of bed and walks through his house in his underwear. He is interupted on his way back to bed by a visitor and he never gets back to bed. He also never gets a chance to get dressed. He also ends up o ...more
Sep 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
Some quotes I bookmarked:

“Over a lifetime our definitions of things change radically, but because it’s so gradual we’re blind to them. As the years pass, our names for things no longer fit but we still keep using them.”

“We look as who we were, once upon a time, and see that person as stupid or amusing, but never essential. Like flipping through old snapshots of ourselves wearing funny hats or big lapels. How silly I was back then, how naive. And how wrong to think that! Because now when you are
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
I like my fantasy book to fit one another. What I mean is, you can have your fantasy world as crazy as you like but please stick to your rules. Because otherwise it would just fall apart and unbelieveable.

Carroll broke too many of his own rules in this book for me. His concept of different selves just plain sloppy and used mainly to make it easier for him but not for the benefit of the story. When I tried to see the big picture I didn't see how it all connects the way it should on time-travel th
Feb 08, 2012 rated it liked it
A longtime lover of literature, I once asked a blind date if she was into books. "Books are alright," she said. "Although I prefer nonfiction. And I definitely don't have time for magical realism."

That phrase -- "I don't have time for magical realism." -- became sort of a running gag among my book loving friends and I. Maybe we're just mocking a world that brooks the supernatural less and less each day, or maybe we're just thumbing our noses at the idea that dream lives are only the domain of th
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really love Jonathan Carroll's writing, the way he sets up some great characters, makes you believe in them, and then hits them with something so leftfield that it pulls the carpet from underneath them and makes them re-evaulate everything they previously thought to be true. However, having come across Carroll's work about five years ago and reading on average one ot two of his books a year in no particular order, I'm coming to the conclusion that he's a bit of a one trick pony. Each book is m ...more
Isabel (kittiwake)
I slipped it under his collar. Like an Egyptian king going to the hereafter surrounded by his worldly possessions, Old Vertue now had a beautiful feather to carry along. It was getting late and I had other things to do. Quickly filling the grave, I tamped it down as best I could, hoping another animal wouldn't catch the scent and dig it up.

Frannie McCabe is chief of police in Crane's View, a small town in New York state. He is generally happy with his lot, having outgrown his wild rebellious tee
Apr 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Not only have I never read Jonathan Carroll, I don't think I've ever read this genre - although I'm not quite sure I know which genre it is. Sci-fi? Fantasy? Metaphysical something or other?
Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed Carroll's writing. I found his main character Frannie, at all ages, totally engaging and believable. I wish the relationship with his wife had been further developed, but loved the relationship with the stepdaughter as well.
I felt like I was a participant in someone's
His best by far....sunshine surrealism...woohoo!!! Spank me again Helga!!!!

Every time I read this book I find something new and weird to love...

If you enjoy New Weird; Slipstream, or literary science fiction this is the read for you.

Highly Recommended!!

5 out of 5 Stars
Nancy Brady
Surreal, absolutely surreal. This novel has everything: a three-legged dog, aliens, time travel, a character who shares a name with my cousin's husband (Al Salvato), a feather and a bone, a police chief, Frannie McCabe, who once was a juvenile delinquent, and so much more.

Some of the story was truly magical, and some of the story was just plain weird and quirky, yet there are some gems to be gleaned in the reading. What more can be said?!
Steven Cole
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
The story starts off with a one-eyed, three-legged dog expiring like an old wounded warrior, and then things get stranger and stranger. “The Wooden Sea” is a novel I picked up thanks to a recommendation in the “2003 Nebula Awards Showcase” as an example of the direction the fantasy genre was heading. And “fantasy” here means fantastical, not medieval.

I think if I had to give just one label to this book, it would be “surreal.” The book starts off odd, then gets strange, and then gets truly weird
Sep 26, 2008 rated it liked it
This was a very odd book and not a book I would normally pick up and read. I was captured by the humor and the idea of this very strange plot. It’s unique qualities kept my interest. The story is about McCabe. He is a cop in the town he grew up in. He is on his second marriage to a woman he really loves and a step father to Pauline. It was nice to see a good relationship between the step-parent and step-child for a change. One day a strange, crippled dog wanders into town and McCabe adopts him. ...more
Oct 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book would be enjoyed by people who like the Thursday Next novels. It includes time travel and other supernatural plot twists that cause it to be pegged as a "science fiction" book, a category that always reminds me of Bradbury and Asimov. This is more just a strange book set in the present time but with very unusual, extraordinary events. The author is trying to figure out what a three-legged dog and a feather and a bone have to do with each other and what else is needed to finish the mach ...more
Arpad Okay
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was an extremely surreal read, a book that just got weirder and weirder the deeper into it the main character fell. The overall feeling is that of Tim Powers, weird magic pulling strings behind the scenes and mucking things up for a surprisingly intellectual group of down-to-earth protagonists. With the foul mouth and taste for pop culture of Warren Ellis and the small town nostalgia of Stephen King. Magical realism turns to time travel turns to a poorly programmed reality folding in on its ...more
Feb 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-fic
This book was kind of crazy, but a lot of fun to read. It was exciting and had some truly hilarious moments. The ending was a bit disappointing, but I am not sure that a more conclusive ending would have been any more satisfying, really. I think I enjoyed Sleeping in Flame more, but this book was a lot of fun to read. It was very different... Although there was some acknowledgment given to Back to the Future, which was nice. I really did enjoy this and I do wish that there was more to the story ...more
Elizabeth La Lettrice
This book was so weird... I really don't know how to describe it. It was so out of the box for me but I really enjoyed it and was actually excited to get back to reading it whenever I had to deal with real life things.

I'm not sure to whom I would recommend it. Maybe to someone who just wants to read something fun and not predictable in any way.

Also, I don't think anyone but me would find this interesting but this is the second book in a row that I've read that included the line from poet Franç
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Strange. Poignant. Haunting. The experience of reading a Jonathan Carroll story is hard to describe to someone who has never encountered his work, and I'm not going to try here. The Wooden Sea, like other Carroll works, starts of in the here-and-now, the land of the real and understandable, but it doesn't take long before the story flies into the dark woods at the fringes of town into the unfamiliar territory of dreams. It takes a writer like Carroll to navigate this territory, to take the reade ...more
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"He created it all - the universe, you, me...everything, and then rested. But before he did it, he arranged to be awakened by all of us, in concert. He gave us the knowledge and the resources, as well sufficient time to develop individually so that together we could build a device that would awaken God when it was time." Once again, Carroll delivers with this novel. Complete stars for humour, interesting concepts and views of things, story plot and good writing. I'll pick this novel up time and ...more
Sarah Sammis
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pc, read-in-2005, released
If Joseph C. Lincoln had set down to write The Man Who Folded Himself he would have come up with something like what I'm currently reading. Fran, a small town chief of police, has found himself in the middle of a time traveling mystery / conspiracy where the fate of Crane's View rests on his ability to sort things out. The first chapter didn't do much for me but by the second chapter the quirky plot began to surface. By the third chapter I was hooked all the way through the epilogue which seemed ...more
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Alright, I may be over exploring Jonathan Carroll books. They are all turning out to be the same and are kind of hit and miss; he's like a less-consistent Murakami. I still recommend checking him out though - his books are in parts unexpectedly true and touching in a way that I haven't experienced with other books. I probably like The Ghost in Love best. ...more
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Jonathan Carroll's writing. Reading this I'm seeing problems and things that annoy me (how many types of end of the world can one author come up with) and this is not my favourite of his books but: I love the writing. Reading this it's like coming home. And for that I'm ready to forgive the umpteenth male protagonist and the slight annoyances. ...more
Chelsea Polson
Apr 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
I wanted to enjoy this book, but I really... really did not. It tried so hard to be a sweeping epic, and not only did it fall short, it felt even more small and insignificant. I felt nothing for the characters and felt as though I was swept up in a dizzying swirl of nonsense that had no remarkable purpose.
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
tons of good quotes, and some great ideas on time travel and what would you say to yourself at different points in your life. Shows how things are not what they seem and the present/past/future can always change.
Jan 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: off-beat hipsters; democrats
I dig the Carroll weirdness. My 2nd Carroll book. Won't be my last. ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: x2013-completed
Wonderfully bizarre... I really enjoyed it. I'm going to look for more by this author. I'm glad my friend Judy read and reviewed it - never would have found this book otherwise. ...more
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Jonathan Carroll (b. 1949) is an award-winning American author of modern fantasy and slipstream novels. His debut book, The Land of Laughs (1980), tells the story of a children’s author whose imagination has left the printed page and begun to influence reality. The book introduced several hallmarks of Carroll’s writing, including talking animals and worlds that straddle the thin line between reali ...more

Other books in the series

Crane's View (3 books)
  • Kissing the Beehive (Crane's View, #1)
  • The Marriage of Sticks  (Crane's View, #2)

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