It’s ten at night and I haven’t blogged yet, so here’s a book review I happened to have standing at the ready:
This is the fifth “Thursday Next” novel (that’s the name of the main character, a woman). I’ve read them all, but I don’t like them enough to reread them so this is the only one I’ll be reviewing.
Jasper Fforde is unlike anyone else you’ve ever read. He is so, so much more portmodern. He’s ALL about the fourth wall. Most of this series takes place inside “Bookworld” where fictional characters reside, playing the parts in various novels like live stage actors. It’s very difficult to explain these books, because there’s so much zany self-referentiality going on. And intrigue, action, and humour.
From the beginning of the series, I found Fforde lacking in depth – both characters and setting feel as if they’re made from cardboard (it’s painted cardboard, but still not “real). Part of this is because the books aren’t meant to feel real – they’re an in-joke between author and reader. Part of it is a genuine weakness on Fforde’s part, which his fans find irrelevant. I’m a pretty mild fan – enough to be saddened by the way he clearly suffers from sudden popularity syndrome. Fforde, like most truly original people (and I’m actually not talking about myself here), took quite a while to get published. He had two or three books under his belt that he’d been working on for years. Then he became a huge hit and was required to produce more books – the more the better, and the faster the better too. And so his later books, while still showing his genius, are simply not as good.
This is a later book. It still shows his genius, but it’s simply not at good. This one is about whether or not the real Thursday Next is missing, and our hero here is the fictional version of her. (It gets more confusing from there, but it turns out the confusion is a plot point. Note to self: Don’t make confusion a plot point.) The stuff on self-publishing was right on the money.
Sample (from when a new book is arriving in the Fantasy section): The first setting to be completed was a semi-ruined castle, then a mountain range, then a forest – with each tree, rabbit, unicorn and elf carefully unpacked from crates. Other sections soon followed, and within forty minutes the entire novel had been hauled in piecemeal from overhead, riveted down and attached to the telemetry lines and throughput conduits.
“It’s a good idea to be neighbourly,” I said [she’s training a standin for her character], “you never know when you might need to borrow a cupful of irony. Besides, you might find this interesting.”
We walked up the drive and across the drawbridge into the courtyard. Notices were pinned up everywhere that contained useful directions such as: “This way to the denouement” or “No boots to be worn in the backstory” and even “Do not feed the Ambiguity”.