Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tea for Two

Tracy Kiely
Which book have you read that makes you wish you could sit down for a gab fest with the writer, living or dead?

I have two. Well, I narrowed it to two. My picks are:

Jasper Fforde: Fforde writes the brilliantly clever Thursday Next series, which tell of an alternate universe where The Russian Crimean War is still raging, literary gangs roam the streets of London locked in a never-ending battle as to who is the true author of Shakespeare’s plays, and a few special folks can literally read themselves into a book and interact with the characters. His female protagonist, Thursday Next, is one such soul. For those of you unfamiliar with Fforde, go out and buy his books NOW. He possesses the kind of brilliance that makes me feel like my ancestors only recently began walking upright. Even his website is brilliant.

Check out his quiz “How much of a Hamlet are you?” Here’s his set up: Ever fancied yourself as a bit of a Hamlet? Wanted to strut your stuff around a gloomy Danish castle, annoying your uncle and insulting the king's advisor? Thought of having your school friends murdered in your place or fighting your dead girlfriend's brother in an open grave? Want to muse for hours over the question of mortality and existence and get paid for it?

If your answer to any of these questions is "I'll have to think about it", then you just might have the indecisive qualities necessary to make you one of the growing band of career procrastinators much in demand in the legal profession and local government.”
And a sample a question:
1: You think your father is murdered, your Uncle did it and he has married your mother six weeks after your father's funeral. Do you:

A) Run your uncle through with a sabre at the first opportunity?
B) Seek legal advice on the correct procedure to bring about a warrant for his arrest?
C) Do nothing except glower and talk a lot?

This is someone I want to hang out with and not have them call for security. I would love to just sit down and just get an idea of how his mind works. Most likely I will leave the discussion with the firm belief that I was dropped on my head as an infant. However, I’ve had this suspicion for a long time so I’m not about to skip tea with Fforde to protect my fragile ego. I believe he lives in an old farmhouse in Scotland too, which is the perfect place to have tea. (Well, as long as it’s been updated with indoor plumbing and running water. Otherwise we can meet at a nearby hotel.)

Jane Austen: How lovely it would be to sit down and have tea with Jane! (Well, you know, provided that the reason she could have tea with me years after her death had nothing to do with a zombie apocalypse.) Not only are her main characters so well drawn, but even her secondary characters such as Lydia Bennet and Mary Musgrove are. Seriously, we all went to high school with a Lydia Bennet, and I think most of us have a Mary Musgrove in our family tree – you know who I mean – the One Who Must Be Endured during the holidays.  These are the characters that made me realize that a) we all have annoying people in our lives, and Jane Austen was apparently no exception, and b) It would have been a blast to sit next to Jane at Thanksgiving (well, you know...had she celebrated that particular holiday).

Tea with both of them at the same time? Mind blown.


Paul D. Marks said...

Good piece, Tracy. Love the quiz. Will keep the answers to myself though... :)

Susan C Shea said...

I wonder about Jane. I fancy she would be so quiet and would be watching and absorbing every detail about you, filing them away to invest in a character while she demurely served you tea and asked you what your hometown was like.