The Eyre Affair and DBC Pierre

I’ve just finished reading The Eyre Affair. It was my first (and possibly last) trip into Fforde’s infamous detective novels, and I’m very dissappointed. The premise is excellent, but I didn’t like its style at all. Here’s a snippet on the plot:

There is another 1985, somewhere in the could-have-been, where the Crimean war still rages, dodos are regenerated in home-cloning kits and everyone is deeply disappointed by the ending of ‘Jane Eyre’. In this world there are no jet-liners or computers, but there are policemen who can travel across time, a Welsh republic, a great interest in all things literary – and a woman called Thursday Next. In this utterly original and wonderfully funny first novel, Fforde has created a fiesty, loveable heroine and a plot of such richness and ingenuity that it will take your breath away.

I disagree. I didn’t find it wonderfully funny at all. In fact, I found it a very tedious read and it took me a lot longer to get through it than I thought it would. My main issue was the way in which Fforde puts together his sentences. I like the odd play on words when I’m reading a novel because it gives prose a little kick when it’s often needed (and, if you want to include puns in that category, then I suppose I like the odd one of those too). However, what I really object to is their overuse, and this is something that Fforde is guilty of in my opinion. His writing is just one ‘witty little wordplay’ after another and it gets very tired very quickly. It’s well enough written, I suppose, in that Fforde’s grammar and sentence structure is good, but his style is very rather too cumbersome to read. Another issue I had with this novel is that it went on for at least 150 more pages than it needed to (probably because Fforde was spending too long being a cheeky little chappie). If I recall, about five significant events took place in all, yet Fforde managed to prattle on for almost 400 pages. Such extravagance is always off-putting for me, even in literature.

Still, though, it’s finished and I’m glad I read it; if only to know that he’s not really for me.

I’m on now to DBC Pierre’s Ludmila’s Broken English which is much more fun so far. Vernon God Little was my favourite book of 2005 (give or take a few others) so I was delighted to see Pierre’s latest book in the shops. For those of you unfamiliar with him, Pierre’s talent lies in writing wonderful tales about general eejit-ry and nonsense (think also David Sedaris and Richard Russo), and doing so with the unfailing tools of sharp wit and observation. If you’re a character in one of Pierre’s novels, be guaranteed that he’ll find the thing you like least about yourself (before you’re even aware of it yourself) and write about with an uncomfortable attention to detail and enviable turn of phrase. I’m engrossed (and frequently grossed out *) so far and I’m only 40 pages in.

If you’re short of Christmas presents, and this sounds like someone’s kind of thing, I’d get buying it straight away.

— — — — —

* Oh my! Was that a little play on words itself? I do apologise if it was.

5 responses to “The Eyre Affair and DBC Pierre

  1. Well, now, i have seen his books in stores, picked ’em up, flicked, put the books back down. Someone once recommended him highly (a Blurty person, if i recall correctly), but i just couldn’t see the appeal.

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