Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Book Geek's Dream

It has become more and more obvious to me, in part thanks to a thought-provoking series of posts from The Reading Ape, that there is a very clear culture of reading among serious readers, and a strong subculture specific to book bloggers.  We have our own jargon, common practices, etiquette...all of it built on a foundation of love for books and storytelling.  So it comes as no surprise to me that I had to find the book blogger community to find Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series.  Fforde's books are a treasure trove of literary references and inside jokes any serious reader, especially of classic literature, should feel right at home in what is a decidedly strange world.

I just finished The Eyre Affair.  It is the novel that introduced Thursday Next, a SpecOps agent on the LiteraTec squad-that is, the group that is responsible for protecting the great books from harm.  While this includes rather ordinary things like verifying manuscripts for authenticity, it also includes some decidedly unusual things-like traveling into the book in pursuit of an evil villain out to destroy the great works of literature.  The Eyre Affair is a rather strange combination of literary discussion and science fiction, all rolled up into a thriller format.

I will admit that the structure of the novel didn't always sit well with me, and I'll have to read more to see if the rules that govern his particular universe stay consistent.  There are a lot of moving parts in this novel-Thursday herself and her past, a time-traveling father, a giant corporation (named Goliath-not the most subtle name I'll admit) that secretly runs things behind the scene, and a bullet-proof super-villain who can't be seen on camera and can apparently change the molecular structure of glass.  Intrigued yet?

What I loved about this novel is the creation of a world where literature is so important to everyone that an entire arm of the government is dedicated to it.  In Fforde's world, the Marlovians and Oxfordians feel so strongly about their positions they go door to door like Jehovah's Witnesses trying to get converts, as though Shakespearean authorship study is a religion (frankly, there's just as much evidence for some of the authorship theories as their is for some religious beliefs, namely not much)  Some literary movements actually took up arms to fight for their literary theory, though that does seem like taking it a bit too far.  Imagine a world where people cared that much about reading and books.  That's not to say I thought this book was without its problems-the characters were not that well developed, and the action jumped around a bit.  But as fun, escapist reading for readers, this book was a winner.

3 comments:

  1. There are always a lot of moving parts within the Next world, but Fforde does a better job with his characters and action in the other books. If you decide to keep going with the series, I'd love to see your thoughts on my favorite of the series: the third book The Well of Lost Plots.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love love LOVE this series! I'm so glad you're discovered it. I think tomorrow (if time permits) I'm going to be writing about SOMETHING ROTTEN, one of the later books in the series. (Hamlet is forced to hide out at a boarding house in the 'real' world.) So much fun. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think these books are so much fun. Plus a treat for thouse who have read some of the classics. I just finished The Well of Lost Plots 2 nights ago and loved it. Great Review!

    ReplyDelete

Penny for your thoughts...