Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jasper Fford, Shades of Grey, What a world! What a world!

I am reading Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey and after the opening pages, which were a bit slow, I found myself striding along with the Russetts, up-and-coming red-hue percepted individuals.  Now about 100 pages in, I am amazed how this world is created and wrapped about the perception of color, both true colors and artificial.  The art of world building is one I am still learning, but reading Shades of Grey as a resource alone is fun, though I am drawn by the story as well.
shades of red on grey

Fforde has built these characters who demonstrate the perception of color in every aspect of their behavior, desires, relationships, social status and careers.  Imagining the scope of his plan before he even began writing is daunting.  This is the first time I have read this book, and I doubt it will be the last. Usually as a reader, I just dive into the story head first, don't even worry about finding nearby exit routes, confirming there are handrails, checking for a lifeguard or preparing snacks or making a quick visit to the restroom.  I won't come up for air until my eyes won't stay open, my stomach won't stop growling even when I growl back at it or I am having to cross my legs.  I am a full on reader.  But Shades of Grey makes me, the writer, keep sitting back and wondering how he pulled this all together with just one brain.  That is not to say I am pulled out of the story, for I am not.  But this other side of me is pulled just as inextricably.

I started Shades of Grey a couple of months ago and found those first pages so sloggy that I turned to two other books and read them before returning to this one just a few days ago.  What is funny is that only a few pages later I was hooked.  It's like when a person goes to the doctor for a pain she has been suffering through for weeks and finally just as she has has enough and is sitting in the doctor's office, she starts feeling better.  That is how I feel: if I had only read five more pages, I would have been enthralled.

Now I don't want to look at another book until I have finished this one and then I may just read it again to let my writer self get a more focused view of what Fforde did with this story.  It makes me want to quote the witch of the west: What a world, what a world!  But with approbation rather than frustration.

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