Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Big Over Easy

A few years ago Ryan and I went to San Francisco because I had an American Marketing Association conference there. While there, we visited the City Lights bookstore, which is definately the most interesting bookstore I've ever been too. Not the best, (that would be Powell's in Portland, OR. It's an entire city block long and has over a million books in stock.) It was started by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who published Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl. Ginsberg and Jack Keroac were frequent visitors. It's interesting because the basement is all alternative literature. They had an entire section devoted to anarchy. It's definately the only bookstore I've been to that had that! You could definately find books there you can't find anywhere else. While there I bought a b//9+-9999999999999999999999 - Optimus Prime (my cat) says hello - While there I bought a book called The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. It was one of the more interesting books I've ever read, so it was a fitting choice. This post is about another one of his books, but if you haven't read anything of his I would start with The Eyre Affair so I wanted to talk about it a little first. It is odd, and I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. It's about a woman, Thursday Next, who can travel into books. Book characters are real, and can travel into the real world in exchange programs. It takes place in 1985, but it's an alternative history where England and Russia are still fighting the Crimean War, and England is controlled by the Goliath Corporation. Thursday is a literary detective, and is chasing a criminal mastermind through the pages of Jane Eyre. This starts a four-part series of novels about Thursday. To enjoy the books, I think it helps to be familiar with major literary works since various characters pop up, such as Mrs. Havisham, Thursday's sort-of mentor. You also have to be able to set aside reality and accept the odd little world they live in. It's an odd mix of reality and the fantastical. Fforde's writing is also odd. I'm not even sure how to describe his style, just that it's not quite like anything else I've ever read. I can see how it would bug some people though. I know I'm probably not making this sound great, but it's because I really love these books and realize they aren't for everyone, and I don't want to overly praise them and then someone read them and hate them. I absolutely love them though! I love that the books are eccentric. I love that they feature wonderful characters from other books I've read, which is something I like so much I even did that in the novel I started while in college (and should really finish someday). But, the book I just read is The Big Over Easy. It's the first in a series of Nursery Crimes - as in nursery rhyme crimes. Jack Spratt is the head detective of the Nursery Crimes unit. This book focuses on the death of Humpty Dumpty. Was it suicide? Was it murder? What could be more awesome than investigating the potential murder of Humpty Dumpty? It's very tongue-in-cheek, but it's hilarious and intriguing, and different. I can't wait to get the rest of the books in this series.

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