I was trying to look for a quote to use as the title of this post, but Fforde's sense of humor is less a plethora is zippy one-liners and much more running humor, so I've been having some trouble finding lines that are short enough to work as the title. Having said that, here's a conversation I do really like, between Landen and Thursday:
"How was your first day?" [Landen] asked.
"Kidnappings, vampires, shot dead a suspect, lost a witness to a gunman, Goliath tried to have me killed, puncture on the car. Usual shit."
"A puncture? Really?"
"Not really. I made that bit up." (181)
Maybe I'm just easy to amuse but that made me laugh out loud when I read it.
Anyway, I had so much trouble trying to come up with something to write about last entry that I thought I'd cheat a bit and find some questions from some of those "discussion questions for book clubs" sites. My mom's boyfriend's* daughter read this book for her book club and recommended it to me, so checking some book club websites seemed to be a good idea. I liked this question from the BookBrowse site
If you could choose Ms. Nakajima's ability to jump into novels, Thursday's father's ability to travel through time, or Acheron Hades' ability to defy mortality, which power would you choose to have and why?
To start with, I wouldn't want the time travel ability. I would probably screw up history by squishing a bug that is responsible for the Industrial Revolution or something equally ridiculous. Or else I would be too scared I'd screw up something to ever use the ability. There's a quote describing the "schools of thought about the resilience of time. The first is that time is highly volatile, with every small event altering the possible outcome of the earth's future. The other view is that time is rigid, and no matter how hard you try, it will always spring back to a determined present." (11) I am clearly on the "volatile" side of that argument. I just can't help but think of Simpsons Treehouse of Horror V "Time and Punishment" where Homer goes back in time and keeps screwing up the future with tiny changes to the past. I hardly trust myself to keep plants alive, so having all of the future in my hands is far too much responsibility for me.
Next up is Acheron's ability to defy mortality. This option is interesting. He seems to be immortal, bullet's just bounce off him without hurting him, and he doesn't appear to age, as Thursday describes: "I remembered him from all those years ago. It didn't seem as though he had aged even one day" (41). It's important he isn't just immortal but he also has eternal youth or else he'll end up like the Greek myth character Tithonus, who had eternal life but turned in to a cricket when he got old because he didn't have eternal youth. But the way Fforde sets up Hades it seems his ability to defy mortality comes from his character and his character is pure evil. Hades describes the pure evil he embodies: "The best reason for committing loathsome and detestable acts--and let's face it, I am considered something of an expert in this field--is purely for their own sake...True and baseless evil is as rare as the purest good--and we all know how rare that is" (29). I don't want to embody the "true and baseless evil" that makes up Hades, and I think that is the only way to really have his skills.
So this leaves Ms. Nakajima's book jumping abilities. And I think this would be fantastic. On the one hand, I don't have to be evil in order to accomplish this and so long as I'm not jumping into an original manuscript, I don't have to worry too much about screwing things up for everyone. You would have to be careful about which books you jump into. Really, I'd love to jump into any of the Thursday Next or Nursery Crime (Fforde's other series) books. You'd have to be careful which book you jump into. I like a lot of horror/mystery/thriller books but that doesn't mean I want to be part of the action. I definitely don't want to end up in American Psycho. I'm sad enough I've read that book, let alone ending up one of Bateman's victims. Jumping into Christopher Moore's Fool would also be fun. It's Christopher Moore, who I love and Shakespeare. Great combination!
So yes to book jumping and no to time travel and evil immortality for me, but feel free to agree, disagree, agree but argue anyway, etc with me.
Fforde, Jasper. The Eyre Affair. Penguin Group, New York. 2001
*What do you call someone's boyfriend if they're over a certain age? Boyfriend sounds juvenile, significant other takes a while to type/say, life partner sounds hippy, new-agey. I know there was a Globe Magazine article about this but I forgot what she came up with, so I'm sticking with boyfriend unless I think up something better.