Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Douglas Adams, Genius

The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams is a mish-mash of writings retrieved from a CD after he died. Here we find articles from The Observer, Esquire and MacUser, interviews, speeches, introductions and a few incomplete bits and pieces as well as the first eleven chapters from a new Dirk Gently book he was working on. There is much here to make you laugh. I think my favorite laugh-out-loud bit was when he was sitting at a table with coffee, cookies and a newspaper waiting for the train. Adams thought the man sitting across the table from him was helping himself to Adams' cookies. Neither said a word as they took turns taking cookies from the little package. Adams was shocked at the man's audacity. Finally, the cookies finished, the man got up and left. A few minutes later Adams folded up his paper to leave only to discover his cookies underneath his paper. Turns out Adams was eating the other guy's cookies! The Dirk Gently piece is rough since it was put together from several different draft versions, but Adams' wit, intelligence and humor shines through. It was difficult to read these eleven chapters knowing that I will never find out where the back half of the Siamese cat, Gusty Winds, is, nor why Desmond the rhino crashed the swanky Hollywood party. As good as Salmon is, it made me sad in the end. It only served to show what a genius Adams was and how tragic his early death. Adams was an atheist and his memorial service, for which the program is the last piece in the book, was a great kick-ass concert with lots of Bach pieces (his favorite composer) and performances by Gary Brooker, David Gilmore and others with speeches by friends and family in between. As sad as the book made me though, I have been inspired to add a few books to my reading list because of Adams: The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker both by Richard Dawkins. On a separate note, I got to start reading Mrs. Dalloway last night. My beloved is part monkey it turns out (who knew?) and managed to get past the boxes of ceramic tile and other items crowded into the library until the new floor is done. He's a gem and the book is wonderful. Though so far I'm not seeing much in the way of Celtic mythology that Keith Brown talks about in his TLS article.