Friday, 6 March 2009

‘The Da Da De Da Da Code’ – Robert Rankin (Gollancz)


‘Godmother’ was a great read but it left me in real need of some cheering up, read the book and you’ll know what I mean... With this in mind, it was back to my pile of books that I bought at the Gollancz author event for a book that I just knew would put a smile back on my face.
I used to be a big fan of Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ books (used to get the latest one every Christmas and not talk to anyone until I’d finished it) but stopped reading them once I started to feel that the humour was taking a real back seat to the plot and the messages in it. Plot is always good but if I’m reading a humorous book I want it to be funny dammit! Luckily Robert Rankin hasn’t let me down yet, as far as this goes, so I was sure that his book ‘The Da Da De Da Da Code’ would help me get over the ‘post Godmother blues’.
I was right, I finished the book this morning and I’m still chuckling to myself even now!

Jonny Hooker knows he is not a well man mentally. If it’s not the ghostly farmer’s market in the attic (that he can’t get to shut up) it’s his ongoing war of attrition with Mr Giggles the Monkey Boy, an imaginary friend who just won’t go away. Time spent in psychiatric institutions has meant that life has passed Jonny by. Until today that is...
Jonny is delivered a letter that promises him a grand prize but only if he can unlock the Da Da De Da Da code... Jonny’s after that cash prize but what he will find is a conspiracy theory wrapped up in a conspiracy theory served up with a side helping of invisibility suits, magnetism and the reason why talented musicians inevitably die at the age of twenty seven. Oh yes, and the end of the world...

‘The Da Da De Da Code’ is a book that had me laughing from the very first page right up until the end. Here’s the thing though; Rankin has been writing for an awfully long time and has gathered together a lot of long running ‘in jokes’ in the meantime, pretty much all of them are in this book (although the General Electric Minigun didn’t really get a look in this time round which was a shame). As a result there’s a lot in this book that might just go over the head of the first time reader. Long time fans will settle right in and pick up right from where they left off in the last book. If you’re thinking of picking up one of Robert Rankin’s ‘Brentford’ books (of which this is one, albeit loosely) then I’d recommend ‘The Anti-Pope’ as perhaps the best place to start.

There is a beginning, middle and end to the plot (which seem to flow well into one another) but the main point of it is really for Rankin to hang as many jokes off it as he can and he does this with great aplomb. Not only is Rankin’s humour better grasped if you’ve read other books of his but it comes at you in a scattergun approach that is definitely an acquired taste. Toilet humour, Monty Python style jokes and word play all hang out together on the same page. I’m a big fan of Rankin’s work but did find that some of the intended humour passed me right by. That was ok though, Rankin comes across in the book as having write extremely quickly just to get it all down on paper (before his head explodes) so if you don’t find a joke particularly funny then it’s fairly safe bet that the next one along will do the trick!

Like I said, I’m a fan of Robert Rankin and knew what to expect from ‘The Da Da De Da Da Code’. I had a great time with it but did come away with the feeling that it wouldn’t be one for first time readers of Rankin. Different people find different things funny as well, have a flick through the first couple of pages and see what you think...

Eight and a Half out of Ten

2 comments:

Hagelrat said...

I loved the early Brentford books and the other Rankins I read, somewhere along the line I just stopped reading him. I should perhaps return.

Eoz said...

I have mixed feelings about Mr Rankin, sometimes I think he's an insane genius and other times I think he's just insane...

Haven't read any in a long time, perhaps I should give him another go :)