Plot, Character and Bags of Wit
by MW Cook
I recently finished The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. It reminded me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I think every Literature Major across the planet just shuttered.
But hear me out.
I was asked what the plot to The Sun Also Rises was. It took me about twenty minutes to answer. And I think I answered it wrong. I sometimes feel the same way when people ask me what The Hitchhiker’s Guide is about. There’s not really much of a plot to it. People complain about holes and the absurdity of every single character and story arc in The Hitchhiker’s Guide. But characters and story arcs are not the point. The story and the characters are just the skeleton to which the massive muscles of wit are attached. Just the bag in which the wit is stored. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a big, beautiful bag of wit. The wit is high and lovely. And if you understand that when you start, you’ll love the book and the lack of coherent plot won’t bother you at all.
I feel like The Sun Also Rises is similar in a nobler way. The story is the characters. It’s Brett and Cohn and Jake. You cannot put anyone else in their place.
Other stories are devoted to plot. Replace Harry Tasker with James Bond and you’ll still get a neat movie. But put Robert Langdon in Robert Cohn’s place and everything falls apart.
Hemingway created real people. And real people don’t need plots and gimmicks to be interesting. They are interesting and beautiful and ugly and tragic and glorious all by themselves.