Early in 2010 I wrote a blog post about a character I saw at a local coffee shop, cleverly disguising the name and location of the coffee shop by referring to it as Stubbs.
Imagine my surprise this week when I am reading along in Jasper Fforde’s most recent Thursday Next novel and discover that the character known for much of the book as “the written Thursday” drops into a coffee shop named Stubbs.
Had I been at the pseudonynomous coffee shop at the time, I might have sputtered my grande soy chai/no water/no foam all over the page.
I’d love to think that Jasper Fforde lifted the idea from my post, but the timing is against it. The book was published in the UK a year to the day after my post; nice coincidence, but given publishing’s glacial pace, Fforde had probably turned in the manuscript months before I even thought about starting a blog.
What it does mean is that Jasper and I both have read Moby-Dick far too often and far too closely, and if you don’t know what I mean, you probably also don’t think “Look, they’re having a gam!” when you see two police cruisers pulled up to one another, or refer to your rain barrel as a Heidelberg tun or your ice chopper as a flensing spade, or insist on putting the hyphen in the book’s title.
Still, I like to think that in some small way, I scooped Jasper Fforde. In fact, I think I’ll leave a note that I’d like that on my tombstone, along with some other minor accomplishments, details to come later. Much, much later, I hope.
Fforde is not just for unreconstructed English majors, although a passing acquaintance with anything written in, or translated into, English from 1700 through 2010 does add another whole layer of enjoyment. But anyone who mourns the passing of Douglas Adams and the incapacitation of Sir Terry Pratchett can take heart; the third member of the trinity is going strong. Run (hitchhike if you have to, but watch out for those Vogons) to the nearest library, independent bookstore, or eReader and check out what Fforde has been up to.
A good place to start would be the first of the Thursday Next books, The Eyre Affair (yes, that Eyre, sort of) or Shades of Grey, the first of what I suspect is another series in the works.
© 2011 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go