I’ve just finished reading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency for the first time since it was originally published. The copyright indicia tells me that was 1987, which would go a long way toward explaining why I enjoyed it so much more now than I did when I was… 12. I read and re-read the Hitchhiker’s books when I was in sixth grade and they opened my eyes to a much more sophisticated and elegant form of humor than I had ever seen on television, and Dirk Gently was an enormous disappointment. It was barely funny at all, and the plot didn’t really make sense. Why, the book didn’t even have a real ending!
I guess my seventh-grade mind just wasn’t ready for quantum mechanics and chaos theory. Reading it now I realize it’s an incredibly clever novel, a brilliant puzzle box constructed of words. I’ve been reading a lot of William Gibson lately, and his text tends to demand careful scrutiny because it’s dense and abstract; Dirk Gently requires scrutiny because it seems light and brisk, but every sentence has the potential to be laden with hidden meaning or unexpected ramifications.
But what does the Electric Monk have to say about it?
Well, of course he does.