Jasper Fforde, The Well of Lost Plots
Such fun, these novels by Jasper Fforde! I've already said my piece about The Eyre Affair, the brilliant first novel in this brilliant series, and I'm feeling poorly about skipping (so far) the second one (Lost in a Good Book), but I thoroughly enjoyed The Well of Lost Plots. No point puffing a hugely popular series, but I will say that Fforde deserves every pound, dollar, kroner, and guilder that he earns from them.
The Well itself is a physically manifesting place where the bits that become books live before they finish becoming -- it's literally the underworld, in that it's 26 subterranean floors beneath the 26 above-ground floors of the Bookworld. Our heroine at one point goes to a bar:
The roughest place in the Well. A haven for cutthroats, bounty hunters, murderers, thieves, cheats, shape-shifters, scene-stealers, brigands and plagiarists. (p.54)I just love that last word in the list. Sounds about right to me, when I'm busy marking papers.
There are all kinds of funny throwaway bits, like the character who keeps getting described in sentences with dangling modifiers - and apologizing for it, since characters are partially responsible for the text in which they appear:
[a] knock at the door revealed an untidy man wearing a hat named Wyatt.Wonder who I can buy these for, come Christmas....
"Sorry," he said sheepishly, apologizing for the misrelated grammatical construction almost immediately, "Wyatt is my name, not the hat's."
"I kind of figured that," I said.
Wooden and worn with use, he was holding a clipboard.
"Oh, bother!" he said in the manner of someone who had just referred to George Eliot as "he" in a room full of English professors. "I've done it again!"(p.15)