The verdict’s in, and the jury says I was too quick to write off Douglas Adams’ non-fiction efforts as not worth the time. My concern that his unbridled wit would end up reigned in, hindered even looks utterly absurd in hindsight. Albeit not on par with his other, fictitious works,Last Chance to See still sees Adams in his usual affable, charming state.
He knows he’s hopelessly ill-equipped to handle the assignment he’s been given, because what about writing humorous science fiction qualifies one to travel the globe in search of some of the most endangered of the endangered species? Maybe the ones who sent him on this mission saw what I did reading the end result, a man who’s so adept a conversationalist that it hardly matters what the subject happens to be.
Adams is more at ease out of his element than many are in theirs, partly due to his unsurpassed ability to find humor in even the most mundane qualities of life. As eye-opening as his reflections on the endangered animals are, it’s the surrounding events which I found myself latching onto the most. It’s in them that he faces jut how out of his element he is and proceeds to have many a laugh at his own expense.
In an earlier review of mine for Adams’ The Salmon of Doubt, I expressed a desire to dine with the specters of him and Vonnegut, andLast Chance to See was almost enough to have me searching the phone book for a medium to make said dinner some sort of reality. While writing is an intensely personal art form, there tends to exist a certain amount of disconnect between the writer and his or her work, but not with Adams.
Whether he was writing fiction or non-fiction, Adams remained ever himself, the type of man you wish you could resurrect, shrink, and implant into your own thought processes, thus allowing for his unique brand of running commentary to serve as your personal perpetual amusement. And if some of his daunting intellect were to seep into your brain as well, even better.
To wrap up, if you find Adams’ style as welcoming and alluring as I do, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by skipping out on Last Chance to See.
Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.