Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #07: The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams


Over on Goodreads, there are a couple users with the gall to claim that The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul is superior to its predecessor. To them, I ask, in what way? Surely they’re not speaking of the quality of Adams’ prose, which was arguably at its best in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, nor the frequency with which laughs are had. And no one can honestly think its plot gels to a greater degree, the story seeming, by Adams’ standards, cobbled together, its many disparate elements never quite coming together, in addition to it having some rather inconsistent pacing.

Perhaps those fruitcakes didn’t take to the eponymous Dirk Gently, given most of The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul is devoted to Kate, Odin, and Thor, Dirk merely happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on occasion. If the above-mentioned were more compelling character studies, this would’ve been an acceptable arrangement; however, the thing is that Adams’ Norse gods sound woefully out of place, and not in the same sense as was seen in Thor. Though the idea of humans and gods sharing a world in a strange symbiotic relationship has legs, Adams’ at times appears to be running on fumes.

To be more specific, I think Adams became so enamored with the idea that he inadvertently put less effort into its realization, expecting perhaps to be able to skate by on the sheer strength of the idea alone. As a result, Odin and Thor sound as if they were ripped straight from a work of fan-fiction, then reappropriated to fit within the confines of this story. Of particular note is their inauthentic-sounding dialogue which makes it difficult to do as Adams wants us to and accept them as real.

More importantly, if I didn’t know otherwise, I’d say this was the unfinished manuscript, not the one contained within The Salmon of Doubt. It boggles the mind to think that the man who wrote this ending, which about collapses under the weight of the sheer volumes of exposition, is the same one who so skillfully wrapped up the much more intricate Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The only reasonable explanation is it was an early draft that his editors never bothered to mess with because, well, he was Douglas Adams, bestselling author.

Early draft or not, however, The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul still retains all of Adams’ madcap wit, surmounting whatever issues there are to be found on the strength of his unsurpassed flair for the hysterical. The end result is a short read satisfying enough that any and all frustrations are immediately squashed, trivialized, and forgotten about.

Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.

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