Thursday, 24 February 2011

Fforde Fiesta

Last night's Jasper Fforde talk was brilliant. Such a nice evening, despite a bit of a false start! We met John Pippin in Cambridge and he drove us back to have tea and cheese on toast (an apt pre-Fforde meal) on Pippin before heading to Ely for the talk. Let's look up the location (St Peter's Church) on Google maps, we thought, before we left. So we did, and found that Google maps doesn't list a 'St Peter's Church in Ely at all. Hmm, we thought, that's rather annoying! We decided to head for the location given in the postcode and hope for the best. If we couldn't find it we'd head to the pub instead!

Thankfully, we passed the church, on our way to the location given by the postcode and arrived just on time. Jasper Fforde was great, regaling us with stories of how he came to be a writer, and about the books themselves. Basically, his main strategy is that he sets him self literary dares that he then tries to write himself out of. The Eyre Affair came out of  a dare to write a world in which it was possible for Jane Eyre to be kidnapped and then rescued by a daring heroine. He is a great speaker, and the best bit was when he mentioned the photos I'd emailed him of the toast on the tree. He said that the Toast Marketing board was one of the most common topics of his fan's emails!

If you've not read Jasper Fforde's work, then I highly recommend that you get The Eyre Affair out of a library (or borrow it from us!). The Thursday Next series is my favourite, and this is the first title. His writing is so funny and surreal, and plays on our shared knowledge of literature. It has lots of references to other books, but also some counterfactual history and fantasy describing a version of our own world where croquet is the national sport, the Crimean war is still going, Wales is a socialist republic and cheese is illegal.

After the talk we met up with Jackie, and had fish and chips on the waterfront, followed by drinks in the Cutter, which was lovely. Alas the weather was too grim yesterday for James to be able to bring the boat to Ely, so Jackie kindly drove us back to Cambridge.

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