Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Genre Character of the Week: Thomas Abbey

Based on a suggestion by my friend Ron, I spent the last two days reading Jonathan Carroll's first novel The Land of Laughs. The upshot? It was a pretty great Dark Fantasy novel, focusing on issues of creativity and obsession, also it featured our Genre Character of the Week, Thomas Abbey.

Thomas is introduced to the reader as both a teacher at a prep school in Connecticut, and as a man overshadowed by his father (a famed Hollywood actor). What first grabbed me about the character is his fascination with the a series of children's books written by a man named Marshall France. Early in the book he comes across a rare book by the author and although it has been pre-purchased by someone else, he sits in the store reading and rereading it until she shows up.

The meat of the story follows Thomas and the books purchaser (a puppeteer named Saxony) as they go to the hometown of the author and attempt to write a biography of the man. Anna Frances - the author's daughter, has turned down all attempts in the past but for some reason is very happy to have Thomas give the book a try. As Thomas and Saxony begin the research and work on the book (as well as a relationship with each other) things start to get more than a little strange.

What I really liked about Thomas comes down to his described outlook on life - as the book's narrator, we see the world through his eyes, and even though he is quite fallible, is more than a little insecure, and has a lot of father issues, he just comes across as very real, and I liked that, a lot.

If you've never tried the book I say give it a shot - after reading the dense prose of Lovecraft last week, it was a refreshingly easy read.

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