Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fforde's The Fourth Bear is all in good fun

78. The Fourth Bear, Jasper Fforde. Fiction, 8-29, p. 383

When Goldilocks carried out her home invasion of the Bear family’s domicile, there was a fourth bear present which led to tragic consequences for the self-absorbed young woman. The identity of that fourth bear, the reason behind Goldilocks’ brutal demise and much, much more are answered in The Fourth Bear, Jasper Fforde’s hugely entertaining second Jack Spratt novel.

Other questions that are answered include why there is a campaign for the right to arm bears, the dangers of the “cuclear” bomb and whether the psychotic Gingerbreadman is a cake or a biscuit.

The pleasures of Fforde’s novel are the same as those found in the Broadway production, Wicked. The witches of Oz are so much more interesting with a back-story than in the virtual cameo appearance they’re granted in the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Just so with Jack Spratt, Punch and Judy, the Gingerbreadman and various other Persons of Dubious Reality (PDR) who appear in Fforde’s two novels featuring Spratt’s Nursery Crimes Division.

It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Fforde goes to incredible lengths to set up a lame joke, only to have the characters comment on his efforts and the lameness of the joke itself. But it’s all good fun and when he’s on, as he is much of the time, Fforde is one of the few authors capable of eliciting a true laugh out loud from his reader.

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