Jasper Fforde and the Art of Second Chances

Jasper Fforde is one cool dude. I mean really, he’s got serious creative balls. If you haven’t read any of his stuff he’s got a series about a woman named Thursday Next, who travels into the Book World where characters compare their levels of development, under-described scenes actually look bland and boring, and plot devices are sold to the highest bidder. He’s also the author of a couple of books about a fellow named Jack Spratt who’s a detective that solves “nursery crimes” and still another book in which the world of the far future has been divided into a “colortocracy” where social standing depends of which shade of the spectrum you can see. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you should definitely check him out. He’ll blow your mind.But here’s the thing. Before yesterday I had read almost every book he has ever written. Almost. The only one I had never finished was The Eyre Affair, the first book in his Thursday Next series and the first book Fforde ever wrote. If you’re the kind of person that keeps up with such things then you might know that The Eyre Affair is legendary for having been rejected 72 times before finally being picked up for publication. And now that I have finally finished it, I know why. To put it bluntly, it’s not that good. I won’t enumerate its faults in too much detail here, but suffice it to say that it is nowhere close to the quality of Fforde’s later work. And I’m fine with that. Because if some crazy agent hadn’t gotten some crazy publisher to take a chance on this substandard work, I doubt Fforde would have gone on to write the rest of his amazing books. He’s become a literary force to be reckoned with, and an inspiration to readers and writers alike, and along the way he’s taught us a valuable lesson. Give mediocrity a try every once in a while; it might just grow up to surprise you.

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