It took me a full month to finish reading The Well of Lost Plots, book three in a Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. Usually I fly through books, so the fact that this one took me so long might mean it wasn’t very good. Might. I assure you, this wasn’t the case. The truth is, reading The Well of Lost Plots was a lot like taking a crash course on Everything You Never Knew You Didn’t Know: Dramatized.
Fforde creates his own little universe inside this series and you have to know the language to understand it all. The language, for the most part, you can learn by being a well studied English Major, but that will only get you so far. Still, even the biggest of dolts can get through this book (I’m guessing) if you are up for the challenge. Here is a small sampling of the things I learned from reading The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde:
- Books are not written by authors, in the way that you would think. The ideas for a book are transmitted to the author from the Book World using an Imagino Transference Recording Device (ITRD). “The ITRD resembles a large horn (typically eight feet across and made of brass) attached to a polished mahogany mixing board a little like a church organ but with many more stops and levers. As the story is enacted in front of the collecting horn, the actions, dialouge, humor, pathos, etc., are collected, mixed and transmitted as raw data to Text Grand Central, where the wordsmiths hammer it into readable storycode. Once done, it is beamed direct to the author’s pen or typewriter, and from there through a live footnoterphone link back to the Well as plain text. the page is read, and if all is well, it is added to the manuscript and the characters move on. The beauty of the system is that authors never suspect a thing – they think they do all the work.” – chapter nine
- Footnotes are both very useful and potentially very annoying, much like cell phones, they can be used to communicate important advice, send junk mail to the masses, or gossip with your gal pals about the Karenin’s scandalous affair.
- Problems in grammar are often the fault of a grammasite, “a parasitic life form that feeds on grammar inside of books. Technically known as Gerunds or Ingers, they were an early attempt to transform nouns (which were plentiful) into verbs (which at the time were not) by simply attaching an ing. A dismal failure at verb resource management, they escaped from captivity and now roam freely…” Chapter 6
- If you should happen to forget that you are pregnant and go on a drinking binge, when you remember that you are in fact pregnant, you will need a spoon.
- Another example of a difference between our world and BookWorld is that in Book World, no two people ever speak at the same time, breakfast is almost never eaten, as it’s never mentioned in books and there are rarely two people in a given book with the same name. There are also often countless people in a book with no name or personality at all. It is sort of like walking through a movie set, with lots of Extras milling about.
- Unlike our world, in Book World there is no TV. So when things like the Book Awards (or Bookies) come up, the main characters all go to the show, leaving behind Generics to keep the stories in order. The Generics are kept up-to-date of the Bookies via footnoterphone updates. With all the usual characters away at the Bookies, fiction isn’t quite so good, but usually nobody notices. This is often the reason people in our world argue over the quality of a recommended book. They had read it during the Bookies.
I’ll stop there. My point is, this book was brilliant. The amount of information Fforde gives, the details he thinks out, it just blows my mind. I don’t think I could hope to be doing it justice in this review except for having quoted it so much. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves literature and comedy and has the patience to sift through Fforde’s mind. The first book in this series is The Eyre Affair.