The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
(Came across while shelving at Waldenbooks)
Thursday Next is the name of Fforde's LiteraTec, an English literary detective responsible for such things as investigating thefts of original manuscripts. Fforde peppers the book with literary allusions, puns (how's "Paige Turner" for a start?), and punctuation jokes. The plot, as the title suggests, has to do with Jane Eyre and a dastardly criminal with evil intentions and bizarre powers. Books like this also tend to make me feel unread—in fact, I haven't read Jane Eyre (which isn't entirely necessary, as you are provided with a brief synopsis), but I probably would have gotten more of the jokes and been more attached to the characters if I had. I'm sure there are plenty of other references and allusions that I missed completely—several of the characters' names sounded vaguely familiar but I couldn't tell if they were meant to be puns or something else.

Overall, it's a jolly good book. Very British (it took me a few times to realize "mean" meant "poor") and quite funny, with lots of pseudo-scientific devices, not unlike Douglas Adams. Where else can you get the definitive answer to who wrote Shakespeare's plays, time-travel and the effects of singularities, a giant evil corporation (Goliath, natch), and Japanese tourists, all in the same book? And how can you pass up an author with the name "Jasper Fforde"?

The ending was, I admit, a little too manufactured-for-a-sequel, but in a book well aware of its own cleverness, it's almost appropriate.

Fed to jonathan's brain | April 14, 2003