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The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Darrowby
on 23 June 2008
Far too Douglas Adams-y for its own good, you can almost hear Peter Jones' voice reading aloud some of the passages and subclauses. So far, in the first forty pages, I've noted two direct lifts from "The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul" (most unforgiveably, a character called "Kate Schechter", exactly the same name as the main female protagonist in "Long Dark") as well as lifts from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens" (singing along to a Queen tape in the car).
It is a funny book, but hardly stellar in its attempts to move away from its influences. If you're steeped in Wodehouse, Adams, Waugh, Pratchett, Sharpe etc., then there's nothing here that will greatly surprise (although strangely, Marsh hasn't picked up much from the writing style of Alf Wight/James Herriot). To be technical, a lot of the jokes (mostly bad observational comedy or similies) either fizzle out or don't make sense. The author clearly knows how to structure a good Wodehousian novel - but then fills it with fluff and spam, rather than anything of real substance. For example, the main character comes home on Christmas Day and, guess what, "The Great Escape" in on the telly. Despite the fact that - famously - "The Great Escape" hasn't actually been on terrestrial TV on Christmas Day for decades, this is such a painfully obviously joke that it can be anticipated two paragraphs before it actually appears. And then the "Great Escape" jokes keeps coming through the rest of the chapter - one of which doesn't even make any sense because it mixes up Donald Sinden (who didn't appear in the film) with Donald Pleasance (who did).
Did no one proof-read this?