My rating: 4 of 5 stars
With this entry in the series, I feel like I finally get something about the series. With Adams playing with a conventional, happily-ever-after ending, he lifts the veil on what he was trying to do with the story. Arthur Dent returns home to Earth (which had been blown up), finds love, and realizes that his adventures aren’t over. And Ford Prefect travels through the chaos of the Universe just so he can pester his friend Arthur, who hasn’t picked up the phone for his intergalactic call. While Adams acknowledges many questions readers might have (literally outlining a few of them in later chapters), the author is determined to tell the stories he’s interested in telling. I’m struck by the last passage of the book that talks about how a dreamer inadvertently stops a war with his whimsical creations. The last sentence states (roughly) that there was a point to telling the story but the narrator has forgotten what it was. Relating the absurdity and wonder of the anecdote was enough.
In my reader’s experience, So Long feels somewhat similar to A.S. Byatt’s Whistling Woman. The author is very firmly establishing the fact that there are many other stories to be told with these characters but is insistent that they’ve accomplished what they’ve set out to do & this is where they’re stopping, thank you very much. Books like these not only make me curious about the continued lives of the characters, but also make me wonder about the circumstances that caused the author to take such a firm stance within their own work. Perhaps, in the light of the different approach of So Long, Adams was struggling with keeping his story from running away from him.