Brainy silliness. That's what USA Today calls Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair (yes, his name does have two "f"s). I think I agree. Steve Poppino, the reference librarian at CSI (the college, not the show) recommended it to me awhile ago when he and I were discussing my upcoming mythology course. I took it to graduation at CSI last week (savvy graduation attendees always take a book and a bottle of water to graduation--it is usually sweltering and always... um... not-yet-scintillating), and I was having a hard time describing it to people in the faculty processional line with me. "What's it about?" they asked me. "Um... it's about... um..." I said, with the cool whit of an action hero. I wish I had seen the USA blurb on the back of one of the sequels. I might have quoted it verbatim to my curious colleagues. "Richly crammed with jokes, ideas, and action. Brainier silliness is hard to find."
Or, I could have rattled off the blurb from the Wall Street Journal review, "Filled with clever wordplay, literary allusion, and bibliowit. The Eyre Affair combines elements of Monty Python, Harry Potter, Stephen Hawking and Buffy the Vampire Slayer." And here's the kicker (ha), "But its quirky charm is all its own."
Fforde really loves books, and what's he's done, you see, is elevate books and all things literary to the status of ... of... something high in status. What I mean is that everyone in Fforde's imaginary world loves books in some way. Everyone is obsessed with Shakespeare or Chaucer or Milton or Bronte or Melville (gotta get an American in there somewhere). The protagonist is a LiteraTec, basically a literature cop. Matters involving original manuscripts and the "true" authorship of the Bard's plays are front and center on the national and personal stage. How cool is that.
There are something like five of these cool books, and I've only read the first. I started the second yesterday.
You see, don't you, that I turned in grades last week, I made my obligatory appearance on campus yesterday for my last "contract" day of the term, and I am now on vacation until the end of August. Just like I did when I was in jr. high, I went to the library and checked out a couple dozen books. No, really. I checked out 13 books. Do you think I can finish them before they're due in 3 weeks. We'll see.
Ah, sweet summer. Now if it would only warm up a bit.