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review 2016-01-25 01:47
The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll
The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll

I’ve spent the last month of 2015 reading three novels by Jonathan Carroll. The Wooden Sea is the third of the Carroll novels I’ve read. You can look at the reviews of the other two Carroll novels: White Apples and Glass Soup here.  I will admit after reading these novels that Jonathan Carroll has joined my must read author list. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these works and they have shown me how far the boundaries of fantasy fiction can extend.


The Wooden Sea is the story of small town police chief, Frannie McCabe of Crane’s View, New York.  Chief McCabe has a three-legged dog that drops dead in front of him and the event takes him on a life-altering ride throughout the novel unveiling the true meaning of love and sacrifice.


I could not help but think of this passage of scripture from 1 Corinthians 13:


If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. {1 Corinthians 13:1-8 The Message Bible}


The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians in that passage of New Testament Scripture what the true meaning of love is in 1st century Greek Culture. It seems to me by happenstance that Carroll has woven the same theme in the Wooden Sea (as well as White Apples & Glass Soup). The Wooden Sea would never be mistaken for a Christian novel, but there is spiritual resonance along with touches of the surrealistic and fantastic interwoven together making it a surprising novel with emotion and depth.


The only issue I had with the novel was the ending.  The abrupt ending of the novel left me wanting more time with Chief McCabe and his wife, Magda.  However, this novel was my favorite of the Carroll novels and I will give it my highest recommendation as one of my best reads of 2015.

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review 2012-03-20 00:00
The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll 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.

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review 2010-08-01 00:00
The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll 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 theme. And what about the dog, the alien, the mystery? Everything ended unsatisfactory.
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review 2010-06-26 00:00
The Wooden Sea (Crane's View Trilogy, #3) - Jonathan Carroll 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 out and about in the town with no mention of his getting dressed and, in fact, never getting the time to get dressed, but no one comments on his being only in his underwear, so he is presumably dressed. This could have been only an oversight on the part of the author, but soon afterwards he finds himself being chased by a vicious dog and climbs atop a car to get away. On top of the car he wishes he could fly and then he jumps off and flies away. That is just like a dream. One outlandish situation suggests another and off we go into another outlandish situation which will be followed by another at the slightest suggestion. This is only one example though. Others include dogs that die and will not stay dead, meetting various versions of oneself at various stages of life, dead people who talk, time travel, space aliens with the powers of gods and so forth. The entire book is weird from start to finish and it is amazing how nonchalantly the protagonist accepts all this wierdness which is mostly happening to him. Do not be fooled though. Even though it is like one long dream that does not mean their is no plot. The plot is involved in the protagonist's trying to figure out what is going on and with a sense of urgency. In the end the urgency does seem to turn out to be kind of moot, but the urgency is still there to keep the suspense and excitement going.
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