I started out reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for review #23, but as wonderful as Kesey’s writing is, and as important as the topic is, I found it too depressing to continue. Some day I might go back to read more about the mental institution where patients are abused, but not now. I’ve read a lot of “serious” stuff so far this year and it was time for something fun. And so this week’s review is Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a great start to summer reading.
I suppose I should be a little embarrassed not to have read it before. It’s one of those novels that a certain group of people — nerds, my tribe — read back in high. school. I enjoyed it immensely, which I think says something about the topic and quality of the writing. It doesn’t matter if you’re 13 or well into your forties, it’s fun to read. It’s a quirky blend of sci-fi, humor and social/political commentary. But mostly it’s just funny and full of quotes your nerdy friends have used before. Some of my personal favorites:
Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.
“Life,” said Marvin dolefully, “loathe it or ignore it, you can’t like it.”
The story starts with Arthur Dent trying to save his home from demolition. The local council has decided it needs to be removed in order to make room for a throughway. Before this can happen, however, a Vogon fleet destroys earth in order to make room for a galactic throughway. Arthur is rescued by his friend Ford Prefect, who is a traveling journalist for the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and not an unemployed actor as Arthur had thought. After bumming a ride off the Vogon ship, through a series of improbabilities, Arthur and Ford meet up with Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox, his consort Trillian and the depressed robot Marvin, and they set off on an adventure to do something for some reason, although just what and why is a little sketchy. But the answer is 42. And the tale is fantastic fun. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.