Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

The author of the book lover's thriller The Eyre Affair is back on form after a few decent misses.

One of the aspects of this novel that I really enjoyed is the diversionary subplots that either pop up periodically or last a chapter and end. Actually there are so many subplots I'm not certain there is a central plot this time. My workshop had a conversation recently about the value of plot (by conversation I really mean me suggesting having a plot was not the same as being plot-driven and therefore not such a bad thing) and one of the things often missing from graduate student thesis novels are subplots (this may be why grad novels also tend to be a little short)... Now unite this with the fact that TV on DVD has raised my love of the form from amateur level to professional, and I've come up with a theory:

TV dramas tend to have one major plot per episode, but they also have season long plots, and plots that last two to three episodes then conclude. Translated to books I see this as the major plot, a bunch of subplots that don't extend the length of the novel but rather rise up part way through and finish, and then some diversions--perhaps chapter length episodes. And suddenly you have a novel that doesn't feel so thin as many a beginner novel does. (That is, assuming your plots are good, and your characters compelling)

And this is exactly what Fforde does so well here. All the events are tied to Thursday Next (the heroine) but they aren't necessarily all tied to each other, nor do they necesssarily last the whole book.

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