Douglas Adams. King of irony. Master of personification. One of the most clever, satirical authors I have had opportunity to read.
If you’re not quite sure who Douglas Adams is, you’ll recognize him as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. You know, the sci-fi spoof/satire with Arthur Dent.
His slightly less heard of character is Dirk Gently: holistic detective and main character in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. What is a holistic detective, you ask?
Meet Dirk Gently. He’s just a bumbling holistic detective at war with his fridge. It’s an old fridge, you see. It hasn’t been opened for quite some time and probably has some very rotten food inside of it that smells pretty bad. So he doesn’t open it. But he doesn’t have enough money to ship it away.
At least he doesn’t have enough until a very rich client approaches him. So he want to be protected by a green monster waving a scythe, but Gently’s not pick about his jobs. Just as long as they pay well, and this one does.
But then he shows up to his client’s house to find him dead. So much for that new fridge.
On the news that same day Gently hears about a check-in desk at London’s Heathrow Airport disappearing in a ball of orange flame. It has some rather strange connections to the case he had almost started working on before his client rudely died.
But, of course, Gently isn’t employed and thus has time to kill. So he begins investigating this “act of God” that is the incident at Heathrow Airport. Maybe it is an act of God, but which god? he wonders. And how is it connected to his filthy fridge and his dead client? Or are these events just another stretch of coincidences in the life of the world’s most off-kilter private investigator?
This is one of the more bizarre books I’ve read. It was one of those stories I put down and thought, “I have absolutely no idea what I just read.”
But I do know that I really enjoyed it. It had everything I liked. British people. Sarcasm. Mentions of pizza. Thor. Pot shots at the publishing industry. Coca-cola machines and poor characters who just can’t catch a break.
Now, my tastes are quite varied, which is why I never see all of the things I like in one book, since they absolutely do not fit together….Except in this case.
Which makes sense by Gently’s “interconnectedness theory.” After all, if everything is connected, then why not put everything all in one book? Only Douglas Adams would think this to be a good idea, and only Douglas Adams would be able to pull it off.
I wish I could explain the plot of this story, but I honestly can’t. It’s about Asgard falling because people are ignoring them. About a mysterious coca-cola machine, an annoying eagle, a girl who just can’t seem to make it to Norway, a man who has something of a hot potato on his hands, and a holistic detective who’s trying to figure out how they’re all connected.
The characters are brilliant. They all come across as regular put-upon people who just want to scrape by, but instead get sucked into weird events and are forced to play along. Very similar to Arthur Dent…or pretty much any character Martin Freeman has ever played.
There really aren’t any characters arcs. Just pages after pages of words that will make you laugh. If you want to know what I’m talking about, just go scroll through this page of quotes. Like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, doesn’t seem to have a definable point behind it, but it also has many oddly thought-provoking sections and underlying themes.
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul is actually book 2 in the Dirk Gentley series. There are, unfortunately, only two books in this series. It honestly doesn’t matter which order you read them in, so you might as well start here. Why? Well, it’s kind of like using Gentley’s navigational technique: Pick a car that seems to know where it’s going and follow that. You may not end up where you wanted to go, but you’ll probably end up where you need to be. So pick a bookworm (me) who seems to know where it’s going (the key word is seems) and follow along with my reading order. Let me know how it goes.
You can imagine my excitement when I learned that Dirk Gentley was getting his very own TV series…made by BBC. With Elijah Wood. It aired last night. About an hour before settling in to watch it, I learned that it was actually made by BBC America. And that’s when I knew it was going to suck.
I watched about 15 minutes of it. I then turned it off and spent the next 15 minutes mourning the fact that I had just wasted 15 minutes of my life watching a show that is trash in every meaning of the word. Leave it to Hollywood to turn a clever British story into the exact opposite. *sigh* Americans.
Yes, I know I’m American. I’m very proud of it. Except when something like this happens and I feel the need to scream:
So don’t watch the TV series. Read the book. Not only is the book great, but the TV show is terrible, so there’s really no competition. Okay. End rant.
If you’re a fan of crazy stories with sarcasm and seemingly unconnected events that suddenly end up connecting, this book is for you. It’s hilarious, the characters are oddly relatable, and it follows a similar style to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Are you a fan of Douglas Adams? Tell me about your favorite book by him! And if you know of any other weird stories I might like, please let me know!