Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dark tea-time of the soul

Book: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Author: Douglas Adams

Published: 1987 (Pocket Books)

Pages: 306

Ah, humorous British sci fi. I will always compare you to Dr. Who. But don’t worry, Douglas Adams; I’m pretty sure you taught the Doctor a thing or two about looking adorably incompetent while actually knowing exactly what’s going on.

I found this paperback in my dorm’s “library,” by which I mean one of three bookshelves shoved into our common room along with the old (comfortable) furniture and boxy non-HD TV that nobody wanted out in the open. I went down there a lot of Friday nights last semester to soothe my raging weekend boredom and loneliness and also to watch The Soup.

A friend of mine introduced me to Adams in high school by lending me a giant paperback edition of all four (five?) Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy novels. I loved them. I loved the absurdity-driven adventures and I loved the characters who seemed so human even if they were two-headed aliens and I loved Adam’s apparent delight in playing with logic—really playing, as in having fun with it and writing all this fun down in a way that only seem like random tangents until you get to the end of them.

He brought a lot of this to this book, minus a little bit of the wacky. This is a mystery about who killed a not-so-well-liked computer company CEO; was it his cellist sister, or her forgetful awkward boyfriend who writes music using intervals found in nature, or his old (very, very, old) professor who’s afraid to use his time machine apartment for more than petty magic tricks ever since he accidentally caused the extinction of the dodo, or the stupid magazine editor who loved his work but was pushed out of it when his dad the owner died, or the detective Dirk Gently himself while denying his psychic abilities and trying to tie everything in the world together while eating other people’s pizza? Or possibly the Electric Monk that’s programmed to believe everything?

SPOILER ALERT: It was aliens. In ghost form. Uh huh.

I liked this story, but my favorite part is the author photo, in which Adams is holding a tea cup and saucer and looking like he wants to shove said tea cup and saucer up the bum of whoever suggested it. I like to imagine him thinking, “I’M BRITISH WE GET IT.”    

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