Something Rotten, by Jasper Fforde

Just finished my re-read of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series last night when I finished Something Rotten.

For some reason, it wasn't as much fun as the first time I read it. I remember that, the first time I read the series, I was chortling every couple of pages at the mayhem the characters would get into. But this time, while I still thought it was funny, I thought that the plots were just too chaotic, with too much going on that didn't really fit into the main thrust of the story. There were too many loose ends to tie up.

I think that, in Fforde's books, the really fun stuff is all the incidental stuff anyway--like the fact that Thursday's son babbles in Lorem Ipsum, and that there are time-traveling police, and all the things that happen in the BookWorld. I'd explain further, but I've found that I get really weird looks when I try to describe Fforde's books. Plus, it would take me as long to explain it as it would for you to just read it.

I will still read whatever Fforde dreams up next in the series. I don't know if I'm going to read The Big Over Easy, though. I've read pretty good things about it, but it sounds a little too silly for me.


A Walk in the Woods Film?

Just saw at MSNBC.com that Bill Bryson's book, A Walk in the Woods, may become a film. Robert Redford and Paul Newman are in negotiations, believe it or not. Personally, I think one of Bryson's other books, like Neither Here Nor There or In A Sunburned Country might make better movies. But that may be because I'm not terribly interested in walking in the Appalachians.

The Shakespeare Debate Continues

I don't think this debate is ever going to be solved.

For decades scholars and historians have been debating if Shakespeare is really the boy from Avon, or if he's one of about half a dozen other Elizabethan figures. I've seen people make cases for the Earl of Oxford, Bacon and even Christopher Marlowe, who was murdered in the 1590s.

I've always wondered, does lack of information mean that the plays and sonnets must have been written by someone else? Why does this debate exist at all? Why can't Shakespeare just be Shakespeare?

Most of the debate has to do with the fact that historians, literary researchers, and readers find it hard to believe that someone from a backwater, with no record of a formal education, could write plays that span the range of human education and emotion. The Times article I linked to above mentions that Shakespeare, after he moved to London, could have used booksellers' shops as libraries, jotting down story ideas and thoughts as he browsed.

My thought about the lack of information is that Shakespeare lived and died in a time that is pretty far removed from ours. Paper rots or gets burned in fires or is damaged in floods. Books, diaries and letters get lost. We may not have found out much about Shakespeare's life because the evidence is just gone.

Something amusing just occured to me. I've been rereading Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series and in the first book, The Eyre Affair, Fforde uses the Shakespeare debate to create sort of religio-politic factions that actually fire-bomb each other's meeting places. The current debate isn't that violent, but I've seen some discussion board threads get nasty about it.