For reasons I will get into in another post I’ve taken a break from other reading to reread everything Douglas Adams ever published, or thereabouts. I’ve just finished The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and will pick today’s taster from it. This is a quote which has been rehashed and requoted and paraphrased so many times it seems almost like a cliche now, but it is nevertheless very true, and I guess the number of times it has been rehashed and requoted and paraphrased is a testimony to how well said it really is:
The major problem – one of the major problems, for there are several – one of the major problems of governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well-known fact, that those who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.
More tasters can be found at Flukten fra virkeligheten.
In which Robin is annoyed yet again.
After an unintentionally expensive trip to one of the kiosks selling paperbacks at the central station, Nick Webb’s Wish You Were Here: The Official Biography of Douglas Adams came home with me. It pleased me somewhat more than the last biography of Adams that I read – however, Webb annoyed me by spending a lot of time referring to either Simpson or Garman, leaving the reader with a feeling that Webb’s own book was something of a waste of time and that he/she would have been better off with just the other two.
I’d still rather read Garman if I were you.
In which hitchhikers are advised to hide in the bushes until the car has passed.
I enjoyed Simpson’s biography of Douglas Adams, entitled Hitchhiker, however, unless you’re a die-hard fan who needs to read everything by and about DNA my advice to you would be to pass it by. Though well-researched and reasonably (though definitely not brilliantly) written, the book focuses rather more on the «negative» aspects of Adams’ career than on the positive. No-one who waited 10 years for the promised next novel (known for most of that decade as Salmon of Doubt, not to be confused with the collection of odd bits and pieces published under that name) can be unaware of Adams’ inability to meet deadlines. Simpson, rightly, you could argue, spends quite a bit of energy on this subject – so much so that it becomes rather tiresome, and he completely fails to see the funny side of this trait (or if he sees the funny side, he fails to convey it). He also spends rather a lot of time retelling some of the good stories Adams told, and then saying «However, that’s not stricktly true.» This also gets quite repetitive, and though the thorough examination of the embelishments and results of faulty memory is no doubt excellent scholarship, I’m not sure I really care (at least not quite so many pages’ worth).
However, I mostly enjoyed it. I did not, however, enjoy the last chapter. Simpson seems intent on convincing his readers that Adams’ heart attack happened because he was fundamentally unhappy – all because the H2G2 film again seemed to have sunk into the Hollywood quagmire. Not only does this seem somewhat unreasonable to me – here’s a man with a wife and daughter and a happy family life, with millions of fans worldwide, with major successes behind him and the safe knowledge that if someone locks him in a hotel room for an adequate number of weeks he will quite definitely produce another blockbuster (he could write, he just had to be forced to sit down and do it) and I could go on and on – and even if Simpson is right, I would just much rather not know, thank you very much. I am still upset about Adams’ untimely death, I do not need to be further upset by the thought that he was miserable when he died.
All in all, you’d be much better off reading Neil Gaiman’s biography.