I remember I bought The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy boxset because my son had asked to read the book. He didn’t end up finishing, so it sat on our bookcase for some time before a series of random praises from unrelated internet searches made me question why I didn’t read it in high school like so many of the people I admire?
I struggled with starting the book. I don’t know that I’ve read anyone with Douglas Adams’ slapstick, surreal humor. It’s fast-paced and insightful like a Marx Brothers movie.
Here’s an example from So Long and Thanks For All The Fish:
“First we have to call it something which says it’s our, not yours, then we set about finding some way of proving it’s not what you said it is, but something we say it is.”
The context of the quote is a scientific expert “professor-splaining” to a non-scientist why his understanding of a phenomena is more accurate than the layperson’s.
This Goodreads review is from last February through May 2022. I’m sharing it now because the notion struck me earlier last week that I don’t read any humor books. I have a copy of SP Somtow’s Beyond Mallworld, which seems like it might be written in the same spirit as Hitchhiker’s but I haven’t cracked the spine on it yet.
The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Boxset by Douglas Adams
02/26/2022. I just finished “Restaurant at the End of the Universe.” Book 2 in the set of five in the box set I bought.
I had a hard time getting through “The Hitchhiker’s Guide” until about mid-way through. It wasn’t because the book wasn’t clever or imaginatively written. It was because it had been a while since I read anything so “absurd” and nonsensical. It was nostalgic. The 80s were for me the moment in time I discovered the surreal humor and wit of Monty Python.
I didn’t read it then. Honestly, it was out of reach because of the headspace I was in as a teen. I’m reading it now and after an adjustment in perspective and expectation have been enjoying the series. The conclusions are clever and though published four decades+ ago, it is as searingly insightful as they claimed it to be at the beginning.
03/17/2022. Today I have read 60% of the Hitchhikers box set I bought. “Life, the Universe, and Everything” continues to snappy insightful sarcasm of the first two books but lacked the big reveal or twist ending. It was fun to read but its end was a set up for the next book, “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.”
04/07/2022. I’ve never read a Harry Potter book or a Tolkien but I can say I have read 80% of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker series. “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish” is when Arthur returns to earth, falls in love, is “caught up” by Ford Prefect, goes back out into space, and reads a message from the “Heat God.” It’s the shortest book in the series – there’s even several paragraphs bemoaning the fact that pages have to be written just to extend the page count – but still sarcastic and insightful and maybe my favorite book in the series (though I don’t think it would be if I hadn’t read the others).
05/15/2022. I’m done! I’ve completed the original five-book series! I just learned that there is a sixth book written after Adams’ death by the author of Artemis Fowl but am uncertain whether I want to take the chance on it despite its good reviews on Amazon… maybe… BUT I am certain I have finished the entire box set I started at the beginning of the year!
The Guide has been taken over by another company. A new Guide is developed but the reasons behind it are suspect. Arthur becomes a professional sandwich maker. There are two Trillian/Tricias. And Ford… Ford is pretty much the same but with an infinite expense account.
“Mostly Harmless” was the most accessible book in the series in my opinion. The zaniness of the very first books seems to have exhausted itself and changed into a more recognizable and in many ways more impactful storytelling. This is the mellowest book of the five but I felt the most poignant. I sort of feel that the Grebulon’s fate is metaphoric of Adams’ feeling towards this final book in the series. Through time and nature, his writing had changed – metamorphisized – into something similar but different enough to be dinstinguishable from the past.
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