Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lightness of Eyre

Book club time again. We read the rollicking, good time read The Eyre Affair, a Thursday Next novel, by Jasper Fforde. Not for the nonliterary minded, its a sci-fi, crime mystery concerned with literary criminals, the security of original manuscripts, and endless debate on who really wrote Shakespeare's plays. In Great Britain in 1985, the Crimean War is still going on, characters can get out of their novels, people can stop time, and a group of special agents called LiteraTecs track down fraudulent manuscripts, keep the Baconians in line, and regulate the thousands of people who've changed their name to John Milton. In this story super-evil Acheron Hades has stolen the original manuscript of Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit and the evil Goliath Corporation, headed by Jack Schitt (gotta love that!), has a powerful weapon that can obliterate an army. Hades kidnaps Jane Eyre midway through her novel and threatens to kill her too. All the plot points do work together, trust me! While it definitely calls for major suspension of disbelief (people have genetically reproduced the dodo as a house pet), This is one of the most creative novels I have read. There are two more novels in the series involving more literary intrigue.

At the same time, while waiting for The Eyre Affair at the library, I picked up Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being which has been on my shelf for a few years. A completely different read than Eyre and certainly not light; the narrator begins by quoting Nietzsche. The story is relatively simple. In Czechoslovakia during the Soviet takeover, chronic womanizer Tomas finds himself torn between his inexplicable love for a young woman, Tereza, and his inability to be faithful to her. Their story, as well as that of his mistress Sabina and her lover Franz, explores the paradox of lightness and weight and soul and body, the futility of language, the charade and the reality of politics, propaganda, and resistance. The first half of the novel read fairly quickly even with all the philosophy but the second half took a more vulgar turn and got a bit bogged down in Soviet politics. It's an odd book and not one I would just recommend to anyone but intriguing.

P.S. Our next book club selection is Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity by Laura Winner. Many of us have already read it but Winner is coming to RTS in November and we're hoping to hear her. A fantastic, must-read for all Christians (even those already married and especially the ones with kids/teens). I have enjoyed and been challenged by her writing. Check out Girl Meets God (her conversion memoir) and Mudhouse Sabbath (on Jewish/Christian spiritual disciplines).

1 comment:

patti said...

Here's your next job...writing book reviews! you certainly are well spoken! Im totally reading the Eyre Affair. Sounds funky and interesting. PS. I had a legit reason for missing S. S. today... the girl was sick....what??? Im 1 for 3, week ill be 50 %