Sunday, November 2, 2008

Book Recommendation: Jasper Fforde

On the advice of a friend, I have read the first two novels by Jasper
Fforde: 'The Eyre Affair' and 'Lost in a Good Book.' I highly
recommend a certain kind of reader.

If you are the kind of person who knows a lot about classic
literature, and has a love of the unexpected and absurd, then these
books are definitely for you. If you don't have a lot of literary
knowledge, but like the works of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett,
then you will also enjoy the books. They are funny,
thought-provoking, and an overall good read.

From what I have seen, you need to start at the beginning. There are
a lot of details about the world and incidents from the plot that will
make no sense unless you have read the books in order, and have a
fairly good memory.

For example, in the first book, there is an incident where the main
character asks a time traveler to go back and investigate the true
authorship of Shakespeare's plays. The time traveler later reports
that Shakespeare did not write the plays; he was just an actor. But
the time traveler also reports that none of the other suspects were
the author either. In fact, there was no evidence that anybody was
writing the plays. So the time traveler hands a copy of "The Complete
Works of William Shakespeare" to the young actor.

In the second book, the main character is again talking to the time
traveler and mentions that there are 33* Shakespeare plays. The time
traveler says, "That's odd, there were only 18 plays in the copy I
gave him." Main Character: "He must have written more. That might
explain why so many of the comedies seem to have the same plot."

That little exchange is a small aside to a conversation about a
different topic, and it shows up without any explanation. It is also
a good taste of the kind of things that happen in the books.

I do have one note of warning. Don't think about things too much.
Just go along for the ride. There are several definite plot holes and
inconsistencies. This is a fairly common symptom of an author who has
way more creativity than logic. But the faults are usually fairly
minor, and the books are definitely worth reading.

Also, you may want to have Wikipedia handy as you are reading these
books. There are a lot of things that you will want to look up.

I just checked out the third book from the library, and plan on reading it soon.

*The actual number of Shakespeare plays is 38. This was not a mistake
of the author; these books take place in an alternate reality.

No comments: