Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What should I read next? Wednesday #1: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

So you, like my friend Colette, who first gave me The Eyre Affair, and who just read Shades of Grey as an e-book in Rothera, enjoy the literary acrobatics of Jasper Fforde?

Well, then, if you especially are drawn to the mystery, the situational comedy, the links to literature, and Fforde's witty, wry tone, you will love The case of the missing books by Ian Sansom.

Probably the biggest difference between the two books is the difference in the personalities of the main characters. While Thursday Next is capable of (one suspects) basically anything, it appears Israel Armstrong is capable of (one suspects) pretty much nothing. I cannot better Philip Ardagh's description in the Guardian: Israel is "an overweight corduroy-wearing vegetarian Jewish librarian." A winning combo, no?

So poor old Israel has failed to be gainfully employed in London, and leaves the city in disgrace, taking a job in Tumdrum (not a real place!), County Antrim (real place. In Ireland). Arriving to find that budget cuts have reduced his place of emplyment to ... a bus.

[No, we wouldn't know anything about that, would we?]

Anyway, the real problem is that the actual books are missing, and no one in town seems to want to tell Israel where they are, although they all seem to know something....

I can tell what you're thinking by now - does this only appeal to librarians!? No, I certainly hope not. Israel's sense of having arrived in adulthood without feeling like an adult, his love of literature, the batty cast of small-town characters, and the sheer tomfoolery of this novel should endear it to many.

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