Tonight: Jasper Fforde draws ffiction ffans to the Tattered Cover LoDo

Jasper Fforde (pronounced "ford") has a quirky side. This comes as no shock to fans of this British author, but folks who aren't familiar with him might be pleasantly surprised by his somewhat skewed take on life. For instance, the main character of his popular Thursday Next series, is... Miss Thursday Next, Detective.

"I keep a list of silly names, and I like to draw them from the common banality of everyday life," says Fforde. Fodder for such names can come from anywhere, even the grocer, from which he derived his character Otis Fruitcake.

There's a kind of alchemy between the author and the mundane world around him. He's also An avid photographer, and his "Ffotographica" subjects often include the common cast-offs of society. Rusty cars, old tractors, and lonely photos of British phone boxes in remote locations pepper his portfolio. He brings life to his subjects, though, which is a testament to his previous career as a camera operator in the film industry. Through Fford's talented lens, still life dances among the humdrum. Such is true with his writing, as well.

The premise of Thursday Next is simple: Miss Next lives on a parallel Earth in which people can jump in and out of literature. Got that? Simple, right? Oh, and she has a cloned dodo as a pet... and ducks are extinct in her world... and she's not a typical detective, but a "literary detective" who rights literary wrongs. Did you know that the ending of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre in our own universe is a direct result of Thursday Next's detective work? Yes it is, don't argue.

"I like reaching into peoples' heads and mining stories they already know," says Fforde, "then I alter those memories -- twist them twenty degrees to put them in a whole new perspective." The result is a brand of literary humor that is alternately dry and absurd. Playing with the "froth and bubble of seriousness" is where he likes to spend his writing time, and his world is filled with puns and allusions. Fforde's "Ffans" love every nuance.

At the end of the day, Fforde says he simply writes stories about people and the wonderful absurdity of humankind. "We're wonderful, strange, and bizarre creatures -- fantastically intelligent, and capable of so very much, both good and otherwise."

Jasper Fforde will be at the Tattered Cover in LoDo tonight at 7:30 pm., reading from and signing copies of One of Our Thursdays is Missing, the newest installment in the series featuring Miss Thursday Next and her book-double Flat Thursday. According to the Tattered Cover website: "Free numbered tickets for a place in the signing line will be available at 6:30 p.m. Seating for the presentation prior to the book signing is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis to ticketed customers only."

See you there, Tuesday next! Or, you know, tonight.

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Bret Wright