By Peter Lewis, 2012-07-09
Has anyone read the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde? They are a series of tongue-in-cheek detective stories centered around a Literary Detective named Thursday Next (our heroine was born on a Thursday) who works in an fantasy England in which literary crime is rampant and taken very seriously, home cloning makes pets out of Dodo birds, the Crimean War has gone on for a hundred years, and it is possible to enter into the worlds within books of fiction. I just started rereading the first three books in the series, as I wait for the sixth to be published. I really recommend the series. Very funny, fast paced, interesting, quirky characters.
Book one is called "The Eyre Affair" and revolves around attempts, by arch-villain Acheron Hades, to destroy Jane Eyre from the inside as it were as he enters the book to change its plot. Thursday is the SpecOps detective who goes into the book to save it. Thursday's ability to jump into books is coveted by the Goliath Corporation (who owns anything worth owning in the world), and their agent Jack Schitt. Rampant wordplay, and genre-play are displayed as a hire-wire act, with multiple plots and long-running literary jokes cast throughout the series.
Book two is called Lost In A Good Book, and book three is named The Well of Lost Plots. These find Thursday beginning to work for the Bookworld's policing agency Jurisfiction, much as she works for Literary Spec-ops in our world. Jurisfiction maintains the boundaries between genres, prevents "book-jumping" (characters jumping out their own books into others) and monitors the trade in plots and characters.
But I wonder about one thing. The author is England-born, lives and works in Wales, and has a lot of fun with the idea that that the Wales in his books is a Socialist Republic with a closed, militant border with England, and rampant cheese smuggling, a bit gloomy and iron-curtainish. Lenin is referred to as Y Brawd Ulyanov, and the republic was founded by John Frost out of the Chartist Rebellions. Everybody drives Griffin autos. I sometimes find this funny and sometimes find it annoying. I guess Fforde is not a a fan of socialism?
Given the spelling of his name i wouldn't expect him to be English, but the Author writes, "Fforde failed his Welsh Nationality Test by erroneously identifying Gavin Henson as a TV chef, but continues to live and work in his adopted nation despite this setback. He has a Welsh wife, two welsh daughters and a welsh dog, who is mad (but not because he's Welsh). He has a passion for movies, photographs, and aviation."
His website is large, fun, full of in-jokes and expansions on the conceits that drive the books. Find it at www.jasperfforde.com If you like humor in your detective stories, definitely try Jasper Fforde.
By Peter Lewis, 2012-06-25
I shut down my woodshop and sculpture studio a few years ago, preserving my shekels for the rent. Since then I have dreamed of regaining a real studio. A proper place to work is a necessity, not a luxury. A dedicated space, a "room of one's own" encourages the dual alternating needs of daydreaming and discipline that any creative endeavor requires. Perhaps a few years will see a new shed in the backyard, big enough to paint, print, draw etc. and daydream of course. At present I'm painting in a corner of the basement, dark, cold and cement, but it's something. Here are some small paintings.
By Peter Lewis, 2012-05-08
A view, with artistic license, of Devil's Bridge in Ceredigion in central Wales. From Wikipedia: "The bridge spans the Mynach a tributaryof the Rheidol. The bridge is unusual in that three separate bridges are coexistent, each one built upon the previous bridge. The most recently built is an iron bridge (1901), which was built over a stone bridge(1753), which was built when the original bridge was thought to be unstable. The builders of the 1753 bridge used the original bridge (built 10751200) to support scaffolding during construction."
By Peter Lewis, 2012-05-08
By Peter Lewis, 2012-04-23
What I'm Reading
The Earth Hums in B flat by Mari Strachan
Gwenni Morgan can fly, in her sleep at least. With enough practice perhaps she will fly while awake. This is the story of her town, her family and the secrets that everyone knows, but no one talks about. Gwenni wants to be a detective and she will leave nothing be, until she can make sense of it. She wants to discover the whereabouts of Ifan Evans, the missing shepherd, and what's "dolally" mean and why did her grandmother go "dolally", and is Gwenni odd, as her mother says, and will she go dolally? And why is her best friend Alwenna, suddenly interested in boys? There is always a lot for children to learn, and the best part of a coming of age novel is the rediscovery of our own emergence from childhood and the first understandings of an adult world that makes little sense to the straightforward mind of a precocious child.
A small cast of characters keeps the town knit together. There is Gwenni and her Nain (grandmother) and Tada (father) and Mam and her sister Bethan, all of whom will also be caught up in the consequences of spilled secrets. Elin the teacher, is married to the lost man Ifan, and Nanw Lipstick is the gossip who knows everything and tells everything. Alwenna, Gwenni's best friend, cannot remain so, and must grow as well.
Told through Gwenni's voice, the story unfolds slowly through both a plot moving towards a conclusion, and through the slow and changing descriptions of the people and town as Gwenni sees them. The writing is straightforward and provides a nice foil to the matter-of-fact belief Gwenni has in spirits and in flying. The reader catches the warmth that Gwenni fells for her family and begins to feel the same. Every character is deserving of sympathy, while each portrait is unsentimental and evokes that period in childhood when the world opens up whether we are ready or not. This is a first novel, by Welsh librarian Mari Strachan, that succeeds admirably. Well worth a reading.
By Peter Lewis, 2012-04-23
By Peter Lewis, 2012-04-19
By Peter Lewis, 2012-04-11
Here's is the latest, the Green Bridge in Pembrokeshire. To anyone who knows the coast the mistake here is probably obvious. This is the view looking south, but the water is on the wrong side, on the left rather than the right. The reason? I forgot to flip the picture before i started drawing and cutting it. I'd like to have a walk up that coastline, though I understand there's a firing range nearby.