The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time by Douglas Adams is a book collecting many of Adams’s unpublished and shorter published writings, and it was published posthumously by his friends. There are several introductions: a record number of introductions in fact! Each of them is a beautiful tribute to Adams, and it is so very clear that his friends both adored him as a person and respected him as a writer: “The reference to Procol Harum brings to mind an incident that demonstrates what many of Douglas’s friends regard as perhaps his most seductive quality: his unflagging ability to get us to do things that we were secretly dying to do, but somehow thought were indefensibly silly or irresponsible.” The introductions made me love one of my favorite authors all the more, and they made me incredibly excited to read these works. They also informed me that the book came together with the hard work of Peter Guzzardi who had the daunting and TOTALLY FREAKING AWESOME task of going through all of Adams’s unpublished computer files to find some gems to publish in the collection. Just for the record Peter and Ballantine Books, if you wanted to publish all 2,579 items, I would 1,000% percent read the crap out of that. Please take my money. But for now, on I venture into the first section…
I was going to talk about the whole book at once, but I found that I pulled too many amazing quotes from the first part. I cannot part with any of them, so the post about this book will have a sequel (and it will possible be a trilogy as there are three parts. I’m going to try to control myself for the next two parts. That’s doubtful though).
These stories are outrageously funny. The stories from life are actually nonfiction stories from Adams’s life. Many of them were published in magazines during his life, but there is something really special at seeing them put together in this format. This section is overflowing with, well, life. I feel I have a true snapshot of what Adams was like as a man, and I must say I adore him. He looked at life with true joy and spread that joy to other people, including this reader and probably you if you decide to pick it up.
About those quotes…
“I am not, I should say at once, in any formal relationship with a dog. I don’t feed a dog, give it a bed, groom it, find kennels for it when I’m away, delouse it, or suddenly arrange for any of its internal organs to be removed when they displease me. I do not, in short, own a dog.
On the other hand, I do have a kind of furtive, illicit relationship with a dog, or rather two dogs. And in consequence I think I know a little of what it must be like to be a mistress.”
I’m fairly certain that if you’ve read any of my previous posts you realize I have a soft spot for books that mention an appreciation for dogs because dogs are magical gifts from Heaven. In addition to the loveliness of this tale (ha tail) about his un-relationship with these dogs, there are bits of hilarity sprinkled all over the story. In fact, that is how all of part one is. He’s telling stories, in some cases very mundane, everyday ones, but they are told with a certain playfulness of language that make this book one of the funniest I have ever read.
Between some of the stories are questions and answers, which I assume are pulled from various interviews:
“Where do you get the inspiration for your books? I tell myself I can’t have another cup of coffee till I’ve thought of an idea.”
I feel that one on a spiritual level.
“I had to try one. I said so to Martin. I may even have wrestled him to the ground and knelt on his windpipe, everything was a bit of a blur to be honest, but anyway he said he would be delighted to let me try one.”
He also put book recommendations in his writing, which, of course, I will take him up on:
“I’m not going to unravel that for you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should read Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote.” It’s only six pages long, and you’ll be wanting to drop me a postcard to thank me for pointing it out to you.”
His appreciation for his favorite authors and his love of literature also speak to me.
“This is socially incorrect. The socially correct way of pouring tea is to put the milk in after the tea. Social correctness has traditionally had nothing whatever to do with reason, logic, or physics. In fact, in England it is generally considered socially incorrect to know stuff or think about things. It’s worth bearing this in mind when visiting.”
Part one was just plain funny. I can’t wait to read the rest!