Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Woman Who Died a Lot - Jasper Fforde

Ah hahaha, oh Past Me. You are such an ass sometimes.

So I remember reading The Eyre Affair and being like, Pfffft, and now I go back and read my review and that's pretty much the case. But then I read One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing kind of on a lark (second chances are not my forte, which I'm starting to realize is arrogant and dumb) and it was VERY EXCELLENT. I dunno, maybe Fforde has been studying his craft and improving as a writer. Maybe I need to hate less.

And horse more!
(Wait, what?)

To be fair, I didn't HATE The Eyre Affair, I just thought the jokes tried too hard. The jokes in The Girl Who Died A Lot are, by contrast, largely on point. Again, they are the literary sort, so if you've NEVER READ A BOOK IN YOUR LIFE this is probably not the place to start. But when they pull out a random ancient manuscript from a library stack and it ends up being Pliny the Really Very Young's account of being unable to see the eruption of Vesuvius due to being put to bed early for some bullshit excuse, I chortled excessively.

So. The Thursday Next books are based on the wacky premise that...something like the literary world is a place you can go and change things or something, *I* don't know. I think I read the books too far apart to keep the rules straight. What I love about them, though, is that (unlike Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, say) the execution is marvelous. I'm always getting my hopes up about things and then being like


but THIS IS ACTUALLY A PONY (metaphorically). It is out there but everything hangs together.Thursday Next keeps being replaced by replicas of herself and she doesn't notice until Landon asks her for the code word and she is like, '...damn' but then, weirdly, the replicas seem to be on her side. So they're always leaving Thursday: Original Sauce in a cozy cupboard with a sandwich nearby or something. So that's happening, but also THE WORLD IS ENDING because God is going to smite it, and then there's some weird time-travel stuff that I swear makes sense when Fforde explains it but drains out of my ears as soon as the page is turned.

And, delightfully, Thursday herself is getting on in years. Like, semi-retirement, bad hip and so forth. The Bonds of the world can age handsomely but any heroine past her mid-thirties is for the scrap heap, so to see Thursday wandering around all In Her Fifties And Still Useful To Society is refreshing.

The whole thing is full of lovely, Douglas-Adamsy nonsense. Find me another book that's wacky but not stupid, plz.

Eight caterpillars.

Requisite ass-covering: book received from publisher.

15 comments:

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

Hmm, Past Me had a similar reaction to The Eyre Affair. I guess it's second chance time for me as well.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Yes! I didn't actually read One of our Thursdays but I've read most of the rest of the books set in that world. Good times. Funny, my husband just last year or so illustrated the diary of Pliny the Whatever (can't remember if it was the Elder or Younger) about Vesuvius.

You might like the book he just published in the US for younger readers called The Last Dragonslayer. It ties for one of the two or three best YA books I read this year. Funny, tight, good plotting & pacing.

Reading Rambo said...

I was TOTALLY LIKE 'Pfffft' ABOUT THE EYRE AFFAIR.

So now I'm generally stunned that we agreed on a modern book. But I haven't read any of his other stuff, so I have no idea if my opinion's evolved or whatevs.

ALSO I think we should take a moment and remember how excellent Good Omens is.

Halle said...

Have you read Where'd You Go, Bernadette? It's wacky in a totally different way than the Fforde books, but very funny.

Also, Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson had me laughing out loud and some of her stories would seem totally absurd, were they not completely true!

L E Carmichael said...

Yes - Good Omens! Such fantastic wackiness, with the fabulous thread of "oh wow, was that profound" underneath it, characteristic of all Terry Pratchett. And Neil Gaiman, for that matter.

Friend just gave me The Eyre Affair for Christmas. If it annoys me, I will keep in mind that better things are coming.

de Pizan said...

I loved Jasper Fforde's brain. It's such a good weird place. I got to see him at an author signing at my local Powell's, and he was delight and just as funny as you'd expect. Talking about the weird time travel aspects, he says it makes sense if you've ever used a credit card. And he claims he found a correlation that people who love the Muppets love his books; people who don't like Muppets usually don't like his books.

highdivingboard said...

I highly recommend Fforde's Shade of Grey. (No spanking involved, promised.) It's. Well. Kind of an Edwardian manners comedy, but also dystopian future? And sci-fi, I guess, but really only in concept but not in execution? And it's so good I read it once, and then read it again immediately after, just to watch him world build. It's less I Am Trying To Be Funny, and more slyly amusing and pointed.

Kayleigh said...

Mixed emotions! I asked for The Eyre Affair for Christmas, and I am so anxious to read it, but maybe I should tone down my expectations a bit. And look forward to later Thursdays. So now instead of just excited, I am excited and wary to/of read/reading The Eyre Affair. Quiet so. Glad they get better.

Jenners said...

Hmmm…I don't know whether to embark on this series or not. Still, there is a pony at the end.

Jessica Howard said...

Oh fun!!

I'm a bit behind on the series: I think the last one I read was First Among Sequels. But this reminds me how much I like them.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I tried One of Our Thursdays is Missing and I turned it off after a disc. See, I thought THAT book was trying to hard to be clever and cheeky. It honestly annoyed the living hell out of me. I guess maybe you have to be in the mood?

Tika Viteri said...

I second the suggestion of Shades of Grey - it's Fforde-style Brave New World and utterly lovely. And also The Big Over Easy, but you should get that one on audiobook because it is hilariously narrated.

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Melissa Ward said...

The Eyre Affair had a whole lotta set up (not helped by poor flap copy which was a bit misleading) but the rest of the books are excellent. I HIGHLY recommend book three, The Well of Lost Plots (set almost entirely in the BookWorld), and book five, First Among Sequels.

They're my favorites in that series :)

Sparkling Squirrel said...

Big Over Easy was wackily sweet in its combination of literary, nursery rhyme and police procedural parody. At times it was trying to hard but it struck me a quite funny and I think you'd really enjoy it.