Modes of Thought are Boy Bands

Way back in December of 2007, my good friend Mr. W.S. recommended a book to me called “The Eyre Affair” by author Jasper Fforde.  At the time, I replied with something lame about what I was reading, but nothing more was said on the matter.  I did file the name in memory, though, as I’ve always respected my friend’s opinion about books (as he seems to respect mine).

Now, I know that haven’t talked about much lately, but I really have to talk about Jasper Fforde’s books. 

Maybe my miniscule audience already knows about him (in which case WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME???), but I don’t think you do. 

Last month, I was here at work and finished what I was reading.  Since I was in a library at the time, I thought I’d look around and see if anything caught my eye.  While browsing, I happened to spot “The Eyre Affair,” and my fuzzy mental processes reminded me that W had recommended the book. 

And I’m glad he did.

Set in an alternate steam-punk, sci-fi noir alternate Earth where literature is of such great significance that there is a huge criminal underground based around the illegal buying, selling, and forging of classic literature, the book tells the story of one Thursday Next, the Literatec daughter of a rogue ChronoGuard agent, who must stop the evil Acheron Hades from destroying great texts by kidnapping and killing characters. 

You would get most of that information off the back cover of this first Thursday Next book.

Fforde has an easy style that hides the erudition of some of his ideas.  He seems to have a great fondness for literature, and his interaction with it is as respectful as it is irreverent.  He also has a way with non sequiturs.  He is most reminiscent, to my mind, of the great Terry Pratchett (whose cover blurb facetiously suggests that he considers Fforde a threat). 

Fforde’s meta-fictional tendencies are, arguably, my favorite part of his work, as he seems to delve into areas explored (less-amusingly) by Grant Morrison.  In the Thursday Next books, we find characters in a novel who literally enter into novels and poems  to both commit and solve crimes.  In the second Thursday Next book, the protagonist believes she is hearing voices as she is communicated with via footnotes, which other characters cannot hear.  In the Nursery Crimes series, we, the audience, are at one point told to accept a piece of information about the book’s mystery, while earlier in the book, the protagonist gets through a particular challenge when he realizes that his opponent is filling the archetypal role of threshold guardian. 

It is in these moments of metafiction that the nature of reality, and our place in it, is called in to question. 

To date, I have read only 3 of Fforde’s 7 novels, and I am working on a fourth.   

As I think you can tell, I highly recommend Fforde to my fiction exploring allies.

~ by truth9 on March 20, 2009.

2 Responses to “Modes of Thought are Boy Bands”

  1. I plan on making a trip to Chapters this evening in search of Mr. Fforde and am looking forward to getting acquainted with a new author who might be a literary critic in disguise.

    Funny, I had been planning on picking up more Pratchett.

  2. Good for you. He may be a literary critic in disguise, but if so, it’s a very good disguise.

    I think it’s more likely that he’s a gamer and and avid reader.

    I suppose that would make him a literary critic, too.

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