Monday, March 8, 2010

Book: Douglas Adams - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987)

As far as I know, this is the only Science Fiction Mystery Detective Comedy ever written. A unique artistic project. Douglas Adams was also the writer of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and if you like that, you will probably like this lesser known work as well.

Douglas Adams is like a loose cannon that drills itself all the way through the most diverse subjects, and then injects all his newfound interests into his stories. While he was working on Dirk Gently, he was, for instance, completely fascinated by computers (which was a wholly new thing back then) and he enthusiastically added some computer talk here and there. Among other things and other things (and other things). But that is the whole point of Adams’ novel: the “interconnectedness” of everything. It is unsurprisingly also the very belief of his esoteric detective Gently. And so Adams created a free pass for himself to drag the wildest things together and fuse them into a novel like a master smith. Wildly different storylines about telephone recorders, a misplaced sofa and electric monks start to fit only at the end like a jigsaw puzzle, and Dirk Gently, master of the interconnectedness, once again solved the case.

As a result, Adams’ novel does not feel like the kind of novel that has been worked on for a decade to perfect, but more like a recording of Adams’ interests at the time. The whole interconnectedness theme sounds a bit as an excuse for Adams to talk about what holds his mind. What saves this book is, off course, Adams sense of humor. Adams is a very intelligent man with a power over words, and likewise his British silliness is intelligent and witty.

Tall. Tall and absurdly thin. And good-natured. A bit like a preying mantis that doesn’t prey -- a non-preying mantis if you like. A sort of pleasant genial mantis that’s given up preying and taken up tennis instead.

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