Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One of Our Thursdays is Missing - Jasper Fforde

2011; 562 pages, plus a couple of way kewl ads in the back.  Book #6 in the "Thursday Next" series.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Literary Fiction; Humor.  Overall Rating : 8¼*/10.

    The title says it all.  The "real world" Thursday is MIA, and so the "written" Thursday is summoned and commissioned to find her.  But the world of fiction is a big place, plus it's just as likely that she's lost in the real world somewhere.

    Oh, there's also an imminent war brewing in BookWorld (between Racy Novel and the combined forces of Women's Fiction and Comedy) that threatens the steady supply of Metaphors.  It needs to be averted before blood is spilled.  Well, not blood.  Before ink and letters are spilled.

What's To Like...
    This is Jasper Fforde and that means good writing, keen wit, and gadding around in the wonderful otherworld of Fiction.  For One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing, Fforde has completely revamped Fiction Island.  It's now on the inside of a giant, hollow sphere and my printed version of OOOTIM has a detailed map to help you keep your bearings.  I'm told the Kindle omits the map.

    Mrs. Malaprop and Pickwick (a dodo with an attitude) are back, and they're a hoot.  Thursday also picks up an android butler named Sprockett, who's kind of a cross between C-Threepio and Jeeves.

    There are a half-dozen or so nicely-done illustrations scattered throughout the book; a zillion nods by Fforde to other authors and novels; and every fiction cliché there is, including the obligatory chase scene.  There are plot twists galore, and with a dozen trite endings to choose from, Fforde somehow manages to come up with something ...ahem... novel.

Kewlest New Word...
Mistral : a strong, dry, cold, northerly wind that blows across southern France.

    And that was when the doorbell rang.  This was unusual, as random things rarely occur in the mostly predetermined BookWorld.  I opened the door to find three Dostoyevski-vites staring at me from within a dense cloud of moral relativism.
    "May we come in?" said the first, who had the look of someone weighed heavily down with the burden of conscience.  "We were on our way home from a redemption-through-suffering training course."  (pg. 18)

    "Flekk's the worst gossip in the city.  I've a feeling you've got less than forty minutes before the press starts to knock at the door, two hours before the police arrive with an arrest warrant and three hours before President van de Poste demands you hand over the plans."
    "What plans?"
    "The secret plans."
    "I don't have any secret plans."
    "I'd keep that to yourself."  (pg. 314)

"Eggs tincture is too good for that burred ... but isle do as Uri quest."  (pg. 43, and a fine example of Mrs. Malaprop's malapropisms.)
    As with all of Jasper Fforde's novels, OOOTIM is a literary feast.  But the first part of the book is, to be frank, a bit too rich.  There are so many bon mots that they tend to block out the plot.  Maybe this is Fforde's way to get us familiar with his new Fiction Island, but that's what the map is for.  There's a whole chapter devoted to a "mimefield" that has no discernible relevance.

    But not to worry.  The plot climbs back up onstage about halfway through, and the story is impeccable thereafter.

    The Thursday Next books are not stand-alones.  They really should be read in order.  So if you're an avid fiction reader, and are not familiar with this series, pick up The Eyre Affair and get started.  You are in for a treat.  8¼ Stars.

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