The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde
In a world where rabbits, foxes and weasels have gained near human status through an event no one understands, cultural differences are brought to a boil by factions dedicated to the eradication or preservation of the furry, long-eared creatures. This is classic Fforde, crazy and entertaining in equal measure.
Once again Fforde regales us with brilliant conceptualization and outrageously bizarre imagination. Only he could have conceived a situation in which rabbits, due to an unknown agency have become anthropomorphized. They drive cars, work in factories, read 19th century British authors (their preference) and threaten entrenched Brits who are sure that the end of everything is in the offing if they aren’t expunged from society. It’s the immigrant crisis elevated to another level, that of species (order, actually) with disturbing relevance to contemporary unrest.
The author deftly creates a situation most humans would never imagine and follows the premise with astonishing logic. The juxtaposition of bizarre occurrences with perfectly understandable consequences, given the stated outlines, is pure Fforde. His work is always a joy to experience and surprisingly illuminating. The themes are always contemporary, hidden in the wild trappings of unlikely narrative.
Peter Knox, a “spotter” for the governmental agency responsible for monitoring the activities of subversive Leporidae possesses the ability to discern between members of the species, something few humans can do. His supervisor, a fox named Ffoxe (they achieved near-human status during The Event, too) is, like all vulpines, a vicious and predatory soul who browbeats everyone in the office through threat and intimidation, not unlike many middle managers. A family of rabbits moves in next door to his house, and he recognizes the female as one he knew from his university days and with whom he had a brief romantic relationship. Although their college encounter and in fact their contemporary one has never resulted in a carnal connection, his garage door is tagged with the epithet “bunnyshagger” by a member of the local reactionary group who hate the species and want them eradicated. His daughter, at the same time has begun what could become a sexual liaison with one of the newcomers who drives a cab and serves as a messenger for the rabbit underground. Things become grimmer and crazier by the page until an apocalyptic conflict presents itself as the ultimate solution to the inter-species clash. It’s culture wars as they might be seen in a funhouse mirror.
Only Jasper Fforde could have created such a scenario, although Carl Hiassen, Christopher Moore or Dave Barry might be able to come close. Readers of those authors’ works are prime candidates for his stuff and should find it great fun. Clever phrasing, imaginative characters and a completely bonkers worldview furnish a delightfully insane experience. I recommend it highly.