Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book comes as close as any conceivable collection of words to capturing the spirit of Monty Python. Like the skits I remember from my childhood, the story here bounces back and forth between utter silliness and a kind of applied philosophical exercise. The result is a literal ludicrousness (“ludic” meaning of a game), a back-and-forth between laugh-out-loud funniness and critique of a late 20th century malaise.

I discovered halfway through this that I read it 15-20 years ago, and, as a result, I always had a sense of what was going to happen next. None of that mattered, though, because the real joy here is the line by line inspiration of Adams’s prose. He has a rhythm that’s hard to describe, a kind of dumb sentence, dumb sentence, dumb sentence, clever sentence that redeems each sentence before it. The book is so clever that I rarely went more than a few pages without laughing out loud and then, because none of it ever stopped, forgetting what had made me laugh.

I re-read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a year or two ago, and it seemed to hold up pretty well itself. That said, I think I prefer this one. There’s just enough of the wonderful Dirk Gently to make things go, and the image of Odin desiring nothing beyond fresh Irish linen just clicks perfectly. If you know Adams, you know enough to read this already. If you don’t, none of it will make sense until you’ve given it a shot. And do give it a shot.

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