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The Land of Laughs

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  5,117 ratings  ·  417 reviews
Have you ever loved a magical book above all others? Have you ever wished the magic were real? Welcome to The Land of Laughs. A novel about how terrifying that would be.

Schoolteacher Thomas Abbey, unsure son of a film star, doesn't know who he is or what he wants--in life, in love, or in his relationship with the strange and intense Saxony Gardner. What he knows is that in
...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 10th 2001 by Orb Books (first published September 26th 1980)
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,117 ratings  ·  417 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
”The Land of Laughs was lit by eyes that saw the lights that no one’s seen.”

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Jonathan Carroll

Thomas Abbey is a prep school English teacher who is weighed down with loneliness, boredom, and a lackluster attitude about the direction of his own life. He has three passions: one, he likes to collect unusual masks from around the world; two, he loves the books of Marshall France; three, he hates (loves) his famous father.

He has been defined his whole life as the son of….

Things begin to change for him
...more
Bill  Kerwin
Dec 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird-fiction

This cult classic--a bigger hit in Poland than in the author's native USA--is a strange novel, and a very interesting one. At the beginning, it seems to be a piece of realistic fiction, narrating the efforts of a high school English instructor in his 30's and his researcher girlfriend to write the biography of a deceased children's book author they idolize. But when they get to the author's hometown, things get weirder and weirder--and the book itself gets stranger and stranger. Unlike many book
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karen
jonathan carroll's books are like gourmet jellybeans. even his shittiest flavors are better than most regular jellybeans, and who doesn't like jellybeans? (alfonso claims that only white people eat jellybeans, which is untrue, but it's such an odd racial stereotype i feel compelled to add it here).

you know how there is some music that no matter what mood you are in, it just happens to be the right music?? jonathan carroll is like that for me. he's just...wonderful, like a new crush you can't sto
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karen
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
real review of book here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

review of this spectacular edition:

ohhhhhh A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!

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after missing out on buying this very limited print run edition of The Land of Laughs because i couldn't justify, at this financial point in my life, spending $85 on a book i've read many times and already own many many different editions of in different languages or with different covers, i had the mopes, but then LO!

connor got me a copy for early christmas!

and it
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☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Morbid and unsettling, even though extremely ingenious. Obsessions, talking dogs, infidelity, diaries of doom, freedom vs fate, writers of destiny, ... what the fig?
Q:
Why couldn’t a woman be marvelous for once? Not winky, not liberated, not vacuous … (c)
Q:
Don’t they scare you?”
“No more than you do, my dear.”
That was that. Five minutes later she was gone and I was putting some of the linseed oil on another mask. (c)
Q:
“The Land of Laughs was lit by eyes that saw the lights that no one’s seen.” (c
...more
Margitte
I had no clue what to expect of this novel, and cannot even remember where I encountered it already many months ago.

FROM THE BLURB
Have you ever loved a magical book above all others? Have you ever wished the magic were real? Welcome to The Land of Laughs. A novel about how terrifying that would be.

Schoolteacher Thomas Abbey, unsure son of a film star, doesn't know who he is or what he wants--in life, in love, or in his relationship with the strange and intense Saxony Gardner. What he knows is
...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dark-fantasy
This book was my introduction to the incredible writing of Jonathan Carroll. He writes these modern fantasies that are sometimes dark and usually humorous. I can't think of another author that I know of that writes like Carroll. The problem is, he usually runs hot or cold for me; I either love the book or I can't even finish it. Again, this is an enigma that I share with no other author. At any rate, THE LAND OF LAUGHS definitely hit a home run for me. Wonderful, funny characters and imaginative ...more
Maciek
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Jonathan Carroll is a writer whose name I have been hearing over the years, but whose fiction I've never tried. An American living in Vienna for many years, he has developed a quiet but steadfast cult following - much like the city itself, with its with its unlimited supply of quiet coffee houses - the famous Viennese cafés, described by UNESCO as places "where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill". Legend has it that soldiers from the Polish-Habsburg army found ...more
Ashley Daviau
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was recommended this book by a good friend and I will forever be grateful to her for that because I couldn’t have loved this book more. In fact, I’m ready to dive head first into the world of Carroll’s writing! This book is just pure perfection, it has everything you could want as a reader; stunning writing, amazing characters and a truly fascinating storyline. And it’s the most beautiful mix of fantasy, horror and magical realism I’ve ever had the luck to read! Trust me, you need to read this ...more
Karl
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is copy 40 of 300 copies signed by:

Jonathan Carroll
Ryder Carroll
Michelle Lopes
David Mattingly
seak
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Thomas Abbey has always loved the books by Marshall France, you may even say he's obsessed with them. He has a copy of just about every book written by the famed (and fictional) author and has an inheritance from his famous father that allows him to pay big bucks for even the rarest publications.

Abbey, who is also a school English teacher, decides he wants to write a biography of his favorite author even though he's never written anything in his life. He manages to run into a fellow France-obses
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Stuart
The Land of Laughs: Weird things are afoot in small-town Missouri
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
The Land of Laughs was written back in 1980 and I wonder how many readers know about it now. It’s written by Jonathan Carroll, who has written a number of offbeat modern fantasies, and I only know about it because it was selected by David Pringle for his Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels. Even that is probably not enough to put it on most radars, but Neil Gaiman also chose it for his “Neil G
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Caro the Helmet Lady
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caro by: ex-boyfriend
I've read this book twice. Both times I was satisfied and amazed. And I am going to do it again.
Brent Legault
Jan 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
Here's what I think: it has a lot of "Boy, howdy!" dialogue. Sometimes the narration reads like an eager family newsletter and is infested with as many tired phrases. The plot and its "twists" are no more interesting or serpentine than an episode of The Twilight Zone or a Stephen King short story. Someone (An editor, perhaps. Did this book have an editor?) should have suggested that Carroll look up "elegant variation" in Fowler's. Much or most of his sentences are just careless, thoughtless, rus ...more
Julia
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of fantasy, creative art
Recommended to Julia by: my daughter
Shelves: magical-realism
I'll end up with a slew of Carroll novels--this one came out in America in 1980, so is one of the early ones. Check out Carroll's website www.jonathancarroll.com . Neil Gaiman, who admires Carroll greatly, wrote an introduction for the website which says:

"Jonathan Carroll's a changer. He's one of the special ones, one of the few. He paints the world he sees. He opens a window you did not know was there and invites you to look through it. He gives you his eyes to see with, and he gives you the w
...more
Phil Williams
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
(Review originally posted on my author website, Write Right Now)

Jonathan Carroll has developed an almost cult status as a slipstream author, and it was with his contemporary fantasy reputation in mind that I picked up a copy of The Land of Laughs, part of the Fantasy Masterworks collection. It had incredibly high praise from a number of reputable critics and authors, including Neil Gaiman, and comes with claims that if you’re new to Jonathan Carroll then his debut is a great place to start. Such
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Robert Warren
Aug 17, 2013 rated it liked it
A dear friend who knows me well pressed this book on me and said, "Read it, you'll love it." She told me nothing about the Land of Laughs, and I'm glad. She loaned me her old paperback copy, which, unlike later editions, has no Neil Gaiman intro. I'm also glad about this, as I'm sure NG, who I love, divulges some plot points because he can't help himself.

The passing of this book from hand to hand was one of those times when a friend's enthusiasm was all it took for me to give it a shot. While I
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Rita
The Land of Laughs is a tricky book.

I thought it was pretty close to perfect, until the last ten pages or so; I walked away from the ending dissatisfied -- distressed, even -- and am still trying to work out whether it was a failure on the level of expectation or of writing. Was I thrown because I assumed the narrative would follow traditional, comforting fantasy logic? Or did Jonathan Carroll just write a careless, pulpy, trainwrecky ending?

The novel starts out full of nostalgia and metafiction
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Katerina
This book most definitely would have deserved 5 shining stars had it not been for the weakest love line ever (and the author should have revealed a bit more about the female bookish-nerdish sidekick, I got a feeling as if she's got a lot to hide).
(and I wish the main character hadn't been such a self-important jerk sometimes!)

Apart from it, it's almost perfect. What I liked the most was the ending, which was beautiful and scary and cool. I liked the whole 80's gadgetless atmosphere, when people
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Teri Nolan
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I nearly gave this novel fives stars - it was so close! The omission of that fifth star was purely based on dialogue. The story was five star, the narrative was five star, but sometimes (not all of the time) the dialogue did not flow naturally, like real conversation. It's a cleverly written book, very enjoyable and holds your attention in that delectable way the best stories do. Land of Laughs was written in 1980 and published in 1982, which was really fun because reading the story reminded me ...more
tim
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Five stars here. Five stars there. I'm shameless. Maybe it's because I'm impressed by almost anyone that can write this well (including so many of you GRers!). It could also be that I'm on a recent streak of really awesome books. Or maybe I don't feel the star-rating system means much one way or the other except to reinforce some deep-seated reward expectation at receiveing gold stars for a job well done.

Either way, this is my favorite Jonathan Carroll so far, by far. Subtle, sleight-of-hand tri
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Michael
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: slipstream
The Land of Laughs is the subtle sort of slipstream novel where something just itches at your brain; you know things aren't on the level but it's impossible to place precisely what until quite a ways in. Carroll imbues his characters with quirks and humanity. The ending was not one that I would have ever guessed. A very pleasant surprise of a book that shouldn't have sat in my cupboard for as long as it did.
Marion Hill
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
“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 pa
...more
Kevin
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved Jonathan Carroll's The Land of the Laughs. I have this book in Hardcover, First Edition. Inscribed and signed by Jonathan Carroll "To ___These Laughs are just for you." That being said, this is the only Jonathan Carroll book that I liked. I don't like fantasy or science fiction. The Land of Laughs came out in 1980. So I disagree with some of the negative reviews. I was utterly transfixed by the narrative and the ending blew me away. This was a chilling, albeit fantasy genre that I could ...more
Lee
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
When you're an English lit teacher, with a little creative writing background, can afford to take a semester off (your late father was a very popular actor,who left you a comfortable inheritence), to go talk to the daughter of your favorite childhood author (who is a God in your eyes) to see if you can write his biography. You head for the midwestern/small town/Mayberry look alike - Galen, MO. Then you start to realize, this isn't like where Opie lived after all.
This is one of the books I have h
...more
Pam Baddeley
Up to about page 130 I was really enjoying this novel, although there are similarities to Carroll's second novel, Voice of Our Shadow. In form it, too, is the first person narrative of a man who although he starts off as a dissatisfied teacher soon embarks on a writing career. And he has baggage from childhood that he obsesses about although in this case it is his famous film actor father.

The theme of the book is famous fathers: the protagonist, Thomas, needs permission from Anna, daughter of M
...more
Adam Roloff
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable, although it has it's flaws. It gives the readers a chance to examine just how important an author is to his or her creations.
Jenbebookish
Feb 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
When I picked up this book I had high expectations. It was on a trusted GR's friend's "favorites" shelf and she had attested to Carroll's talent and skill. So. My feelings after I finished, which was just this very instant... I'm not so sure. I guess this book is sometimes categorized as horror, which doesn't quite make sense to me but there was a undercurrent of creepiness that was clearly evident.

To sum it all up it's about a guy who is borderline obsessed with an author and who wishes to writ
...more
Nick Iuppa
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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867 followers
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
“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.” 51 likes
“The questions are the danger.
Leave them alone and they sleep.
Ask them, awake them, and more than you
know will begin to rise.”
10 likes
More quotes…