Absurdity and Why I turn to Douglas Adams in times of Trouble

During the last long rough week, I needed to fill alot of long worrisome hours and I needed to keep my spirits up. The perfect solution-  Douglas Adams. I had listened to Hitchhikers Guide on audiobook a few years back when I was making long drives during a tense time and it had kept me from having panic attacks all over the road. The three following books worked like a charm this week as well.

To describe the plot of Hitchhikers guide and it’s sequels, they would play out like a horror sci fi. An alien race destroys the Earth and an English man narrowly escapes with his alien friend. Together they dodge peril as they try to explore the universe, teaming up the a two headed former president and the only other survivor of the Earth.

But if you’ve read it, or watched it, or even heard about it, that is not at all what these books are. Well, yes, in the most technical sense, that is the plot, but in what is missing from this brief summary are the words “hysterically funny”.

So how does Adams do it? How does he take what should be a terrifying subject and make it hysterically funny (while breaking almost all the writing rules we try to adhere to)?

Absurdity.

He is the master of the absurd and it has landed him in the ranks of the greats.

There are lose ends. There are plot holes. The explanations for many of his characters and situations don’t make any sense and it doesn’t matter because everything is improbable and absurd and with the except of Arthur Dent, everyone else accepts and understands this.

So if you’re struggling to pull something together, you have a premise that just won’t fit, whether it’s a scene or a whole novel, consider adding a touch of the absurd. Don’t take yourself, your characters or your work too seriously and see what happens if you change the way the world works.

Because while I love a really good dark, serious read that is well written, more often than not I just want to laugh.

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