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review 2018-02-26 12:00
Go Gently into the Dark...
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul - Douglas Adams

At the outset of this short book by the author of 'The Hitch Hiker Trilogy', I was hopeful for a blissful return to the cosmic mayhem of yore. I came upon the book on a hospital shelf and it seemed like a dead ringer to lift the gloom and restore spirits and that it did.

As a random choice, it did mean my introduction to Dirk Gently – ‘Holistic Detective’ - came at the character's second outing (originally published in 1988), but this didn't seem to detract from the story (and I will go back to check on "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency", 1987, through my tbr list). In any event, Gently's fundamental belief in the interconnectedness of all things provided a delightful proof for the anarchic stream of glorious gibberish served up by Adams here. Leastways the inbuilt laugh-out-loud moments are also a fairly reliable indicator of an intact funny bone and a sign that dependent on one's perspective, we do continue to mill about in a curiously mysterious world.


Like a well-honed stand-up routine, the author highlights some of the ambiguities and illogical nature of human behaviours and starts at the fertile territory of an airport, with an American traveller, Kate Schechter, bewildered by the inability to get pizza delivered in London. There follows an inexplicable incident, labelled an 'act of god', but what if Kate's path has indeed crossed with a god of old Norse mythology, also in transit to Scandinavia? The possibilities that flow from Asgardians walking the Earth might, in other hands, be threatening, yet Adams shows even super-humans might suffer the similar frailties of mortals, driven to extraordinary lengths to secure well laundered bedding. Throw in a gory murder, awaiting the kismet influence of the hapless detective and giggle-laden chaos is assured. Still, not too much of a spoiler I hope, to reveal, Gently does it....

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review 2017-07-07 00:31
A Plum Novel
Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves - P.G. Wodehouse

Few writers can raise a smile to the lips after just one paragraph and have me snortling by the end of the first page. But then, P.G.Wodehouse remains an exceptional talent and in Wooster & Jeeves he created a rare literary tonic. Described by the Society (UK) bearing his name as “the greatest humourist of the twentieth century”, Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (affectionately elided to ‘Plum’ by friends and family) has also retained the capacity to lift spirits into the new millennium. Clearly he was a writer of his time, replete with well-defined British social strata of the 1920's and 30's, but it is surely his ability to lampoon the elite classes and etch caricatures such as Bertie Wooster and Aunt Dahlia into the national consciousness, which is his greatest legacy.


In this short novel, against his better judgement, Wooster is lured to Totleigh Towers, Gloucestershire, home of Sir Watkyn Bassett, to rescue the faltering engagement of long-term friends ‘Gussie’ Fink-Nottle and the daughter of the host – Madeline. This is not entirely an altruistic act, since Bertie has every reason to believe that should the betrothal not be realized, he may be expected to step into the breach in Madeline’s marital prospects. This is consequently a matter of paramount concern to Bertie, dwarfed only by the abject horror such a turn of events would visit upon Sir Watkyn!


Thus, the familiar entourage is transported to the country, where ‘Gussie’, ‘Stinker’ Pinker, Roderisk Spode, ‘Stiffy’ Byng, Emerald Stoker, et al proceed to dispense the farcical social carnage, which generally accompanies their ludicrous interactions. And once again it falls to that paragon of calm, Jeeves (Bertie’s valet) to divine a course to preserve his employer’s bachelor status and simultaneously settle a whole series of potential disruptions. A wondrous spin through something akin to the Hatter’s tea party, but what a great time is to be had in this company!

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