Saturday, October 20, 2012

The next Thursday Next

I've been in the midst of some fairly heavy books lately...good books, but nothing that has made me laugh. Whether from Geronimo T. Johnson's Hold it 'til it Hurts, a stunning debut about war, family, race, and love, or Andrew Porter's widely-acclaimed debut In Between Days about the disintegration of a family, I needed a break.  What better respite than a book about an impending smiting in the city center, doppelgangers with a 24-hour life span sneaking in and stealing the protagonist's consciousness, dealing with a daughter who's never existed, and a 64% chance that the world will be annihilated in 37 years because time travel has been un-invented?  Oh, and did I mention the dodo bird who spends a lot of time thinking about The Dukes of Hazzard reruns? 

Jasper Fforde has lifted my literary spirits yet again with his seventh book in the Thursday Next series The Woman Who Died a Lot: Now With 50% Added Subplot. Fforde has created a world in which science fiction and literary classics are smooshed together with a level of absurdity that flirts with annoying, but is just smart and funny enough to keep it from crossing that line.  In the latest addition to the series, the famous literary detective Thursday Next is still suffering from her injuries sustained in Book World and is trying to adjust to her new position as the Chief Librarian at the "All-You-Can-Eat-at-Fatso's-Drink-Not-Included Library." At the same time, she continues to battle Goliath Corporation and her nemesis Jack (I don't think I can publish his last name here because even though it's spelled differently, it still sounds and reads the same). Her children play an important role in this book, with Tuesday attempting to create an anti-smote field by week's end and give a keynote speech at the MadScientists' Convention all while trying to be a normal sixteen year old girl, and Friday adjusting to the fact that he's gone from a promising future as the head of the Chrono-Guard to a certainty that he will murder someone by Friday. As for Jenny? Well, she still never existed.  Confused? It's to Fforde's credit that this all manages to tie together and add to the story, rather than detract from the plot with its silliness. 

The Woman Who Died A Lot is a refreshing return to what Fforde does best, after a rather weak turn in the sixth book of the series, One of Our Thursdays is Missing.  If you've never read any of Jasper Fforde's books, I highly recommend starting with The Eyre Affair, in which Thursday Next is introduced and saves all of literature in well fell swoop. 

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