Monday, September 29, 2008

Like Paul Harvey, but with literature

Title: The Well of Lost Plots
Author: Jasper Fforde
Bookmark: a Post-It containing a partial critique of bagels that did not contain raisins

I had to wait a couple weeks, but the next Next finally got back to the library. Hoping to protect herself and her unborn from the Goliath Corporation and Lavoisier, the dirty ChronoGuard operative, Thursday Next has hidden herself in Caversham Heights, a book so bad it will likely never be published, and thus languishes in the Well Of Lost Plots. Fforde continues to build a world where bookpeople exist and have lives when they're not playing their part in the plot of the books you're reading. It is a world far too complex to explain in one post, but well worht a visit. Start as early in the series as you can, but if you jump in midstream, he'll catch you up with the vital points pretty quickly, and it will only be slightly less confusing for you than for someone who's slogged through them all.

This time, Thursday contines her work as a Jurisfiction operative in the Bookworld as she tries to rescue the book in which she lives from demolition and imbues two Generics living with her with sarcasm, subtext, and personality. There are murders most foul, mysterious and bizarre attempts on her life, two separate motor races with Mr. Toad, and her continuing mental battle with the mnemonomorph Aornis Hades over the memories of her husband and continuing sanity, all in the background of the impending release of a new Book Operating System. If you thought that sentence was bizarre, wait until Fforde uses the word "had" eleven consecutive times, and actually manages to make a kind of sense with it.

Fforde is ffun because he not only writes a very entertaining and extremely funny story, but he also makes fun of the way we live, work, travel, read, and even write. His explanation of how books are actually generated before the authors get their hands on them is truly imaginative, but is also kind of plausible. And he references other works as only someone extremely in touch with lots of literature could. In this book alone he explains how Uriah Heap got his name and demeanor, why Wuthering Heights is told in its nested first-person style, and why Miss Havisham goes out in a blazing inferno.

On a side note, Fforde got his start working in movies. Odd that he would write books which would be damn near impossible to adapt to the screeen. I try doing things like that in my head as I read, and most of the time I can manage, but when he carries on two simultaneous plots, it's hard to see how that would work. Not just "read one then go back and catch up with the other," either. They're both going on on the same pages at the same time. The man's brilliant. Possibly insane, but also brilliant.

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posted by reyn at 2:13 PM


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