‘Smee’ (not his given name) is the male secretary to Professor Richard Dawkins. There are many aspects to his role – not just organising the Professor’s life, including his many public engagements, but various forms of guerilla marketing promoting the hunmanist movement in general, and specifically Dawkins himself both online and in ‘real’ life – even in pubs and wandering round towns starting Chinese whispers.
The Professor is out of touch with humanity, has no social abilities, is pompous, arrogant and self-satisfied, but after a heart-breaking split from his wife, this job seems to be just the kind of focus that Smee needs.
As Smee and the Professor are on their way to a talk at the Women’s Institute in the quaint English village of Upper Bottom, bad weather hits, and they are forced to hole up at the rectory.
Taken at face value, WTPGSITS isn’t at all ‘surreal’. It is however, very quirky and extremely funny. It’s a pretty short read, and to be quite honest is just daft. From people being pleased that the Prof was ‘finally out of his wheelchair’ to jokes about the ridge between Front Bottom and Back Bottom and a quick battle with Mr Tumble, it was silly and childish throughout.
And just this childishness is what made it so funny. I felt quite light and gleeful whilst reading it. There was no ‘side’ to the story either – although the Prof was completely detached and self-righteous as a character, there was something still quite appealing about him. His naivete about his fellow humans made him come across as a big kid himself. The characters that he encountered that argued his argument of there being no God were all very accepting and intelligent.
I loved that as a reader, I didn’t feel that I had to pick a side and stick to it – it didn’t make any difference what my belief was.
I know that it sounds as if this whole book was about making Richard Dawkins look bad, but honestly, it wasn’t – and I’m afraid you’d have to read the book to understand. No spoilers here 😉
However, I bought this on Amazon at the weekend, and had absolutely NO idea that it was planned to be ‘removed from sale’ by the author and publisher on Wednesday (21st May 2014). It had been on sale for 12 weeks by then, and they have been conducting an ‘experiment’. You can read more about that on Dan Rhodes’ website here.
I thoroughly recommend it as an irreverent, light, no-brain-required read when it is republished. Cast all doubts to the wind, let yourself go, and giggle at the sheer silliness!