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July 26, 2007

The road less trodden

Fforde2 Last night, Jasper Fforde, author of mystery fantasy comedy novels much loved here at The Point, gave a reading from and took questions about his latest, Thursday Next: First among Sequels. Kim and I battled D.C. traffic and a woefully unprepared bookstore ("What do you mean YOU'RE SOLD OUT OF THE NEW BOOK??") to be in attendance. Despite the inconveniences, we and the other 20,000,000 or so fans jammed into the small space had a terrific time. That's Kim you can see peeking over Mr. Fforde's shoulder in the picture -- which you can see better if you click on it -- and you can all thank me for the tussle I had (a) to get her to be in the picture at all and (b) to get her to let me post it here.

It's hard to believe anyone can have as prodigious an imagination as the creator of Literary Detective Thursday Next, but having gotten a glimpse into some of that imagination's mysterious interior workings (one of the author's literary inventions was inspired when he happened to be in a museum shop and thought to ask them if they had any dodo cloning kits available), I came away even more inspired and awed. One of my favorite parts of the talk, though, was when he was talking about how his love of taking "the road less trodden" -- a nicely Anglicized version of Frost's famous line -- led him to make his heroine into a one-man woman. He had thought of making her a character with a checkered dating history and lots of annoying ex-boyfriends, when it occurred to him that it would be something new and different nowadays to let her enjoy domestic bliss instead. Which turned out to be, I think, one of the most endearing things about a very endearing series.

At least, if one's definition of domestic bliss can include having one's husband eradicated by the Goliath Corporation for a couple of years while a mnemonomorph called Aornis Hades tries to erase all your memories of him.

But that's all in a day's work for Thursday Next. If you're one of those Potterphiles forlornly wondering what on earth to read now -- or even if you're not -- might I suggest you give these delightful books a try?

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Diane Singer

I saw his latest book in B&N yesterday and had to slap my hand NOT to buy it right now. I simply have too many other books that I need to read before the term begins in three weeks. But, I know "it's there" waiting for me when I have the time to re-enter into Mr. Fforde's delightful literary world. What an imagination indeed!

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