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arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Nonlinear Time Series Analysis
Thomas Schreiber, Holger Kantz
Progress: 29/320 pages
NeuroDiversity: The Birth of an Idea
Judy Reene Singer
Progress: 52/82 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: Hainish Novels and Stories, Vol. 1: Rocannon's World / Planet of Exile / City of Illusions / The Left Hand of Darkness / The Dispossessed / Stories (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 440/1100 pages
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated
Charles Darwin
Progress: 310/346 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 359/700 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 110/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
She Stoops to Conquer and Other Comedies (Oxford World's Classics)
Henry Fielding, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith
Progress: 76/448 pages

The Well of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde

The Well of Lost Plots  - Jasper Fforde

Has there ever been a more aptly titled novel? Fforde, in the third novel following protagonist,Thursday Next, has created an extraordinary place, the BookWorld, where all books are created and all their characters exist, from the humblest generic pizza delivery boy to the greatest Troubled Romantic Leads. Part of this amazing feat of imagination, which has been thought out very carefully and in impressive detail, is the Well of Lost Plots, where new books are manufactured and unpublished works exist.

 

The reader is given a thorough tour of Fforde's creation and this is where the aptness of the title comes in - for during our explorations, coherent narrative drive is, well, lost. All sorts of things are happening but they all seem to be related to a collection of sub-plots rather than one over-all plot. Retrospectively, one can see that many of the incidents are important to a crisis that develops late on but at the time it just seems like a bunch of things Next is conveniently around to witness. This makes the first 3/4 or more feel weak to me - and while this is happening, Fforde is making subtle digs at the cliches and convnetions of various genres. He may just be doing this for humour, of which there is plenty, but when writers do this it makes me scrutinise what they are doing very closely: I feel that if one is to attack other writers, even in general, in one's book, one has to not be open to similar criticism oneself. China Mieville fell up this problem in Unlundun and here Fforde is doing it too - because not only is there no real plot coherence until very near the denouement, but said denouement goes really well until a hideous (and predictable) Deus Ex Machina is perpetrated on the reader.

 

The book is far from being all bad; the absurdist humour is strong and abundant and the subtext about the dangers of moving completely away from print publishing is an analysis I wholely agree with but I feel as if this book is, despite being more what I expected from this series than the first book, The Eyre Affair, actually weaker, structurally.