Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages - Tom Holt

2011; 378 pages.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Fiction; Humour.  Rating : 9*/10.

    There's a dimension-hopping pig.  There's a real-estate agent whose coffee cup keeps empyting itself.  There's a here-today-gone-tomorrow (literally!) dry cleaning shop.  There's a flock of chickens who think they're a bunch of lawyers who all have brothers who are musicians.  And there's two knights that have been dueling for centuries.

    And then, things begin to get really strange...

What's To Like...
    This is Tom Holt's latest offering (#45 or thereabouts), and the second one by him that I've read. There's chrono-hopping, dimension-travel, intrigue, mystery, and major weirdness.  And of course, there is LOL humor.

    The characters are heartwarming, even if they're "one-and-dones".   The book trots along briskly, and the plotline is complex.  Things teeter on getting out of control, but they never quite do.  No matter - the fun is in reading along and trying, along with all the characters, to figure out what the heck is going on.

    There's a Tim Henman plug on page 127 (Wiki him).  And last but not least, the greatest, most perplexing Question of the Universe is answered : "Which came first; the chicken or the egg".

Kewlest New Word...
Mither : To fuss over or moan about something over which you have no control.

    He couldn't in all conscience critcise Gogerty on that score.  The job he'd been set was, after all, monstrously difficult, quite likely impossible: looking for a phase-shifting needle in a poly-dimensional haystack, blindfold and wearing wicketkeeper's gloves.  The more he thought about it, in fact, the more depressing it became.  (pg. 218)

    There's also a rule that says that women are allowed to be afraid of animals; they can make as much fuss as they like, and you're not allowed to tell them to pull themselves together or get a grip.  It's one of those complicated rules, like men having to carry the suitcase at airports but opening doors is male chauvinism.  "All right, then," he conceded.  "You know what," he added, "I think I may have seen him before somewhere."
    "Don't be silly," Eileen replied.  They're allowed to say things like that too.  (pg. 309)

In the presence of magic, logic is a chocolate frying pan and a Zimbabwean government stock.  (pg. 85)
  The quibbles are minor.  The ending has a bit too much "telling, not showing", and one or two of the loose ends (such as the two knights) are left untied up.

    But who cares?  The main point of reading a Tom Holt book is to accompany the cast of characters as they try to cope with rampaging zaniness.  The ending is charming; the writing is skillful; and every page is a-chock with chuckles.

     Comparisons to Robert Rankin, Jasper Fforde, and Terry Pratchett can be justly made; but the closest similarity is with the absurdism of Douglas Adams.  If you enjoyed HHGTTG, you'll like Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages9 Stars.

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