The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul – Douglas Adams

Book # 209

Reviewer: t, of as long as i’m singing

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”

This is a line not at all from the book being reviewed today – “The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul” – but rather it’s predecessor which was, to the cultured fan at least, a much better read. It’s unsure if this novel would’ve also been surpassed by the third installment planned, entitled “Salmon Of Doubt,” as the author had to go and screw the whole thing up by dying, after wading only several chapters in.

I’ll be reviewing the first book as well, but thought I would address this one first, as I’m a bigger fan of saving the best for last. Not that this one was bad, mind you. No, not at all. Unless of course you’re very religious (about Thor and Odin that is), and easily offended by conjecture in their regards. There’s nothing blasphemous in the book. Or at least I don’t think there is. But there’s hardly anything complimentary either.

In this novel, and assuming you’ve already read the other book that I’ve yet to review, we once again meet up with Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective. And much like other main characters created by Douglas Adams (I would assume that by the third paragraph in, the author’s name should be noted at least once, yes?), they are nice to have around, but hardly required to keep the story moving along. A story that can be quite confusing at times, what with errant and seemingly intelligent eagles fighting gods with short tempers and big hammers. A story that also involves people walking sideways into heaven, only after walking the Earth looking much like hell. A story that shows us a god who is much more concerned about crisp white sheets than he is eternal life. An adventure full of Coca Cola Vending machines, refrigerator thugs and horoscope writers who use their position in life only to secretly insult others whom they don’t care for. In short, another jolly romp from the man who taught us that the art of flying is simply forgetting that you’re falling.

As with my other reviews, I really don’t want to give too much of the plot away, assuming I haven’t just now. But I can tell you this. Adams once again creates a female character – this one by the name of Kate – that seems to be the only person of strength and sanity in an otherwise mad world. A world where Gently’s actual client ends up dead, his head lazily sitting atop a revolving recording of the smash hit “Hot Potato,” in the very first chapter. A world where the Thunder God himself is forced by his father to count all the stones in Wales – only to think that he “may have lost count somewhere in Mid-Glamorgan.” Amongst it all, Kate shows herself to be the bravest, most intelligent and the most “grounded” of any and all the people – or gods for that matter – that populate this novel. It’s something I hadn’t realized till just recently, but upon second thought, a running theme with most of Adams’ work. Amongst all the insanity, the nonsense and the sheer lunacy, there always seems to be a strong woman in the center of it all. Made stronger still by the fact that she responds so coolly to all the idiocy that abounds.

I will tell you another thing as well. Like most of Adams’ other material, this too required a second reading to fully “get it.” A second breeze through to simply enjoy the scenery, as it were. Not because the language is alien or clunky, but rather because the nuances are too bountiful and subtle to catch them all in the first go ’round. There are parts within this novel where you can almost see Adams struggle with his boredom over it all. But he rebounds from these moments quite quickly, and in a total of thirty-five chapters covering three hundred and seven pages, ends the story in a fashion very satisfactory. An ending I won’t blurt out here, but an ending that wouldn’t suffer terribly even if I did.

As mentioned before, this would prove to be the last full book that Douglas Adams ever wrote. While it wasn’t his best work, it is a testament to the man’s talent, wit and charm. It’s also another glowing example of how he could twist words into a delicious concoction that makes your mind almost – well, I want to say “orgasm over” – but I’m not sure if this is a “family friendly” site or not, so we’ll just leave that last bit out. I suppose what I’m trying to say about this book has already been said about this book. It occurred when The Houston Post said this: “Nobody else writes like this, nobody else could…” Snag a copy from your local library or used bookstore. You’ll be glad you did. But unlike the flip-flopped nature of my reviews, DON’T read it until you’ve read “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” first!

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3 thoughts on “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul – Douglas Adams

  1. rdopping April 16, 2012 / 2:16 am

    He was ALSO my hero when I was a younger man. I need to go back to his books and reread them. That’s where my inspiration and in a word, my quirky “sense o humour” came from. Well, not entirely, but it did help me understand the universe, towels and meatloaf.

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