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Reader’s Den, Biblio File
September in the Reader's Den: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde - Week 2
And she can handle a gun... She, naturally, is our heroine, the intrepid Crimean War veteran and LiteraTec Thursday Next, and people who have read a lot of books are likely to find her cross-genre adventures highly entertaining. Welcome back to the Reader’s Den for week 2 of our discussion of The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, the first book in the whimsical Thursday Next series and a selection on NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books, selected by listeners in 2011. (Back to week 1.)
Here in the Reader's Den, what we really want to know is what you think about the books we're reading, so feel free to post comments whenever you like, and in the meantime, here are a few snippets from the critics:
“Surreal and hilariously funny, this alternate history...will appeal to lovers of zany genre work (think Douglas Adams) and lovers of classic literature alike.” —Publishers Weekly, December 17, 2001
“...a campy, whimsical, wonderfully entertaining first novel” —Fantasy & Science Fiction, September 2002
“This is a highly entertaining mystery with social satire, time travel, fantasy, science fiction, and romance thrown in to the well-written mix.” —School Library Journal, December 2002
"Fforde delivers almost every sentence with a sly wink, and he’s got an easy way with wordplay, trivia and inside jokes. The Eyre Affair can be too clever by half, and fiction like this is certainly an acquired taste, but Fforde’s verve is rarely less than infectious.” —New York Times, February 17, 2002
If, like me, you do acquire a taste for Jasper Fforde’s goofily literate sense of the absurd, you won’t lack for reading material. He is the author of seven books in the Thursday Next series, the latest of which, The Woman Who Died a Lot, is scheduled for release in the U.S. on October 2nd. The third book in the series, The Well of Lost Plots, won the Bollinger Everyman Woodhouse Award for comic fiction in 2004. Fforde is also the author of the humorous dystopian fantasy, Shades of Grey, and several books for young adults. So far, there are two titles in the the Nursery Crime series, featuring characters from well-known nursery rhymes, The Big Over Easy , in which DCI Jack Spratt investigates the death of Humpty Dumpty and The Fourth Bear, which has Spratt investigating the disappearance of Goldilocks, who's into some heavy stuff. The first book in the Dragonslayer series or the Chronicles of Kazam, The Last Dragonslayer, will also be released in the U.S. on October 2.
In a interview published in the New Statesman last year, Fforde shared that he begins writing a novel by giving himself a "narrative dare" to write his way out of. The Eyre Affair began with the challenge, "Create a world in which Jane Eyre can be kidnapped." How well do you think he succeeds in creating this world? One Thursday Next fan commented after last week's post that she particularly loved the "weird (but popular) reality TV programs" and the literary characters' journeys outside of their allotted texts. The porous border between the real world and the BookWorld is what sets up most of the fun (and much of the danger) in The Eyre Affair. What aspects of this parallel world do you notice and appreciate as you read? And what just strikes you as really funny?
You can find more information about Japer Fforde in the British Council's Writers Directory and on the author's website and listen to an author interview recorded for All Things Considered on NPR in 2004. If you have a NYPL library card, you have access to the Literature Resource Center, where you can find overviews of the author's work and reviews and criticism published in a variety of periodicals.
Thank you for visiting the Reader's Den. We'll be back next week with discussion questions, so keep reading! (A character's life may depend upon it.)