Adams Swings and Misses

I finally gave up this weekend on The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. I made it about a hundred pages in, and it’s just not as fun or as engaging as Adams’s better novels. I get the feeling that with this one and with Mostly Harmless, he had just run out of gas. Publishers no doubt wanted more, and no doubt he wanted to give more, but he just had nothing left in him. As an alternative bedtime read (Micah’s bedtime, not mine–I stay close to his room with a light novel in hand until I’m sure he’s asleep–less chance of potty-training disaster that way), I started Tolkien’s The Hobbit, which I’d never read farther than the appearance of the thirteen dwarves. I’m already well into that gathering now, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to finish this time.

I’m at the library today, so I anticipate I’ll post a few more things on the old blog today. Jeff and Jonathan have posted some good material on CRM this weekend, and although I’ve offered initial comments, I’ll probably do some genuine writing towards that project as well. I’m drifting into a pattern of work that I like, and it’s analogous to my former message board activity: on the days I don’t work the library, I work hard on comps and teaching matters. On the days I do, I put my efforts into blogs and Crazy Important Things, in other words things that I can work on with the frequent interruptions that come with running a small town public library. (Ryan, if you’re reading, expect a couple chapter drafts later this week, probably Saturday.)

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2 Comments

Filed under Books, Self-promotion

2 responses to “Adams Swings and Misses

  1. Andrew

    I certainly didn’t enjoy Mostly Harmless the first time that I read it, I’ve recently re-read it, its a more interesting read, because the cynicism is not, as one might except, directed towards the rather fun, if sometimes trivial rock and roll view of the world gently satirised in the first four books but rather towards late capitalism.

    By contrast in the Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, it seems to me that Adams is beginning to consider, albeit in comic vein, the limitations of a materialist world-view. It exhibits that rather defiant but whimsical tone adopted by those who have been convinced that the soul is no more than electro-chemistry, and the spirit an illusion created by evolutionary accident, but who nevertheless believe that soul and spirit are more important than our society admits.

  2. I can see those good things happening in the first Dirk Gently novel, but Adams pairs it there with some sharp wit and some fragmented narrative tricks that make the novel fun. Tea Time stuck with the Dirk’s-eye-view for entirely too long, and it seemed like the novel was trying to do psychological realism, something I rather respect Adams for avoiding.

    I might try Mostly Harmless again some time–like you, I read all five Hitchhiker novels ten plus years ago.

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