The Wooden Sea

(2001)
The Wooden Sea

There aren’t that many authors that I love. Jonathan Carroll is one of them.

 Carroll writes what inevitably ends up being labeled fantasy, but is really simply our lives and emotions expressed more clearly and intriguingly than our workaday world allows for. The mutable nature of reality and the down-to-earth approach to cosmic revelations recall the works of Philip K Dick.

The Wooden Sea is eminently readable and engaging, mainly because of the warmth and humor of the main character, a Vietnam veteran and former bad boy named Frannie McCabe. Frannie is clever, self aware and curious, which might lull one into thinking that this novel is no more than a pleasant diversion. But that would be a mistake; Carroll is not a frivolous writer.

As the novel proceeds, Frannie encounters a number of doubles, versions of himself at various ages, and meets up with an otherworldly figure, a black gentleman named Astopel, who sends Frannie hurtling into the future. He also travels back in time to his favorite Crane's View diner for a poignant and revelatory meeting with his long-dead father.

The book is wonderfully bizarre and contains tons of great quotes. Although as with most Carroll novels, those who prefer neat wrap-ups would do well to look elsewhere.

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