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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 2003
I can sum up "The Wooden Sea", by Jonathan Carroll, in one, quick statement: Absolutely the best book that I have ever read. Through all 300 odd pages I was as intrigued, compelled, and astounded as I was when I first began the story at a Borders cafe.
To begin with, I hadn't read a Jon Carroll book in a long time, three years exactly, and upon seeing advertisements for his North American tour--posted on Neil Gaiman's (another favorite author! read him!) online journal--imediately began reminiscing about his older books. Since I am only fifteen years old, and he was not coming to my town, I gave my sister a ring--whose city would house Mr. Carroll for one evening--and politely asked her if she could get me an autograph of his latest book. Of course, being the good sister she is, she complied and on November 14 got my copy of "White Apples" signed.
Knowing I had a book signed by him, my interest in Jonathan Carroll was renewed doubly. And on one of my usual bookstore visits, I came across "The Wooden Sea". I decided to give it a read over a cup of coffee. Though the coffee I had ordered tasted unusualy delicious, it surely was not as delicious as the book I had begun to read. Jonathan draws you so tightly into this story and all the characters that I felt that I was Frannie McCabe--the main character-- and that I was experiencing all the uncanny madness that he was. Jonathan also does such an incredible job of making this fantastical story--which some authors could not--believable.
Reading this book is like staring at a Salvidor Dali painting. The scene is so surreal and flat out strange that you know none of this could ever happen, but Jonathan succeeds enormously in making you, in the far reaches of the back of your mind, ask: What if?
This is my favorite book of all time and I will treasure the magic that Jonathan Carroll has given me til the day they lock shut my coffin. I HIGHLY reccomend "The Wooden Sea"--along with the almost-equally good "White Apples"--to anyone who knows how to read. You won't regret reading this book.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 December 2000
Jonathan Carroll should be declared a national treasure. The breadth and scope of his imagination is staggering.The fact he has turned out novel after novel of the highest quality over the past two decades only adds to his stature. A good writer does it once in a while. A great one does it again and again and that is Carroll. I'm embarrassed to say I was so eager to read this book that I bought a bound galley of it for a ridiculous price at eBay. But now that I've read it, I'm glad I did. If you've read the other two books in this "Crane's View Trilogy" you'll be delighted to know the protagonist is Frannie McCabe,the sexy chief of police. And boy, does he have a story to tell. Jonathan Lethem, who won last years' National Book Award in the US said this: "The Wooden Sea is one of his funniest, strangest, and most melancholy offerings." It is also one of his very best.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2002
Jonathan Carroll seems to be one of those authors people rave about, but I found this novel (the first of his I've read) disappointing, largely because of the way it developed. The writing was brilliant, the characters engaging, and the initial part of the story gripping and intriguing. But by about three quarters of the way through, I had given up on it making any sense. Worse, I found it so impossible to accept the reality of what was happening, I ceased to believe in the reality of the characters, and stopped caring about them altogether. I skim-read the last few pages in boredom, and arrived at the end with a flat, "oh". I think I understand what the author was trying to say, but I don't think it warrants a novel like this to do it in. There is just too much stuff in it. The premise of the blurb is the question, "what would you do if your 17-year-old self turned up to tell you you had got it wrong?" This element might have been interesting (and is, very much, at first) but is quickly overwhelmed by everything else in this haphazard story.
Still, maybe I place too much emphasis on endings, and on things making sense. If you can stand being bombarded by marvels without them having to mean anything, then I would recommend this book, because the quality of the writing is excellent.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2004
Some time ago, browsing through the pages of Locus Magazine I found a pair of articles from Gary K.Wolfe, one of the most respected critics of the field, reviewing "The Wooden Sea" and "White Apples". I got more than a favourable impression from them so just after completing their reading I went to the author's site and grabbed a chapter called "Chocolate covered god" from "White Apples". My first impressions where soon reinforced so I bought both books from amazon.co.uk.
Now, I've recently finished "The Wooden Sea" and I must confess I feel really disappointed. Although Carroll writes with great style and technique, as I advanced through the pages I got progressively the impression he had no previous argument in mind. Being as it was well written I went on with it trusting all the incoherent threads would get some sense at the end in an amazing display of genius. Unfortunately the miracle was never done. Now I think Carroll's book compares well to one of those impressionist paintings which are inspired more by the artist mood than by a concrete idea.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2007
Oh dear, dear, dear, dear, dear! There I was about 100 pages into Jonathan Carroll's magical box of unbelievable tricks - I'd never read anything so incredible, and so excitingly unreal, yet made so believable with the fine writing style - and what a start! - a three-legged pit bull with one eye, that refuses to die. And then it all slipped away like the tide as the second half of the book got bogged down with a few oddball characters and different versions of the main character, his younger and older self.

What a shame after that fantastic start.

But I'm going to try this author again - I've got THE LAND OF LAUGHS - hope this will cut the mustard throughout.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2001
I am a big fan of Carroll's work,and here he has succeded in writing another work of art.this is the story of police lieutenant Frannie McCabe,who in this book must search to find himself by going forwards and backwards in time.As always the characters are weird and funny all at the same time.carroll's books are at times hard to review,and this is no exception.I cant praise his books enough,i thoroughly recommend this book .
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2013
Did not expect such a quick arrival - very pleased with that. As described. Very happy with this purchase. Would definately recommend it.
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