Posts Tagged ‘Douglas Adams’

11th Decade Roundup!

It’s that time of my reading life again, where I review the last ten books I read, pretend I can remember them all, and then take stock of what happened. It’s also that time of my blogging life where I’m incredibly frustrated because WordPress has eaten three of my blog posts in the last two days. C’mon, guys, get it together.

This was a pretty good batch of books. It was a good mix of books I knew I’d enjoy, books that were just enough of a digression from my usual taste to be a challenge without being annoying, and books that I really liked but never would have read otherwise. It’s pretty much what you’d want in a book grouping.

I started out with What I Loved, which was fine while I was reading it, but very much on the “meh” portion of the scale. It wasn’t awful but I didn’t love it. I’m glad I read it, I suppose, but I doubt I’ll read it again. Another book in the category of, “glad I read it, now let’s move on” was The Girls of Slender Means. It was more enjoyable than I expected it to be, but I’d be surprised if I ever revisited it.

Then there were the books about two very different boys who were actually pretty similar, in some ways. Huck Finn is always a classic, and if you dialed up Huck’s delinquency and sense of adventure and combined it with a bit of crazy, you’d have Francie Brady of The Butcher Boy

Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye was a bit of an emotional read, but it was okay because it was followed by two zany books by Douglas Adams. It’s always fun to revisit Dirk Gently and his friends, and it’s even more fun to try and explain what you’re reading to people who don’t know Douglas Adams.

Finally, I was thoroughly sickened and shocked by Lolitabefore being captivated by some Murakami magic in Kafka on the ShoreI rounded out the bunch with the amazing Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions. I think Vonnegut is swiftly becoming one of my favorite authors.

My favorite book out the batch was definitely Breakfast of Champions. Vonnegut knows how to spin a phrase and play with language at least as well as Douglas Adams does, but there’s something about the way he weaves chaos through order and brings crazy insights into his work that I adore.

The reward for biggest shock goes to Lolita. I went in with bravado thinking that I was prepared and certainly wouldn’t be shocked like all those prudes who are sickened by books about sex. I was wrong.

And the book I liked the least was probably What I Loved. Like I said, it’s not that I didn’t like it, it’s just that it didn’t do anything for me. Not every book can.

Now I’m off to (hopefully) catch up on my post for the next book, House of Leaves, assuming WordPress stops eating my posts.

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Quotes I’ve Loved, 2014

“…I attempted briefly to consecrate myself in the public library, believing every crack in my life could be chunked with a book.”
– Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

“…to this day there is something illusionistic and illusory about the relationship of time and space as we experience it in traveling, which is why whenever we come home from somewhere we never feel quite sure if we have really been abroad.”
– W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

“Darkness does not lift but becomes heavier as I think how little we can hold in mind, how everything is constantly lapsing into oblivion with every extinguished life, how the world is, as it were, draining itself, in that the history of countless places and objects which themselves have no power of memory is never heard, never described or passed on.”
– W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

“Although I had no regrets, I told myself sadly, that growing up was not the painless process one would have thought it to be.”
– Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

“The twenties are as frenetic a decade as the teens. You have a voice inside your head repeating I want, I want, I want,  but you don’t know what you want or how to get it. You hardly know who you are. You go on instinct. And your instinct mostly pushes you toward adventures you won’t grasp until you look back on them. Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward, some sage once said.”
– Erica Jongafterword, Fear of Flying

“What you imagine is what you remember, and what you remember is what you’re left with. So why not decide to imagine it a little differently?”
– Jennifer Dubois, A Partial History of Lost Causes

“‘Louis XVI was executed because they considered him to be a criminal, and a year later his judges were killed too for something. What is wrong? What is right? What must one love, what must one hate? What is life for, and what am I? What is life? What is death? What force controls it all?’ he asked himself. And there was no answer to one of these questions, except one illogical reply that was in no way an answer to any of them. That reply was: ‘One dies and it’s all over. One dies and finds it all out or ceases asking.’ But dying too was terrible.”
– Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
– James Joyce, Ulysses

“By eight Greg and I were in Truckee. By eleven we were still standing on the hot side of the road trying to hitch a ride to Sierra City.
‘HEY!’ I yelled maniacally at a VW bus as it whizzed past. We’d been snubbed by at least six of them over the past couple of hours. Not being picked up by those who drove VW buses made me particularly indignant. ‘Fucking hippies,’ I said to Greg.
‘I thought you were a hippy,’ he said.
‘I am. Kind of. But only a little bit.'”
– Cheryl Strayed, Wild

“What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything differently than I had done? What if I’d actually wanted to fuck every one of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”
– Cheryl Strayed, Wild

“I began then to think of time as having a shape, something you could see, like a series of liquid transparencies, one laid on top of another. You don’t look back along time but down through it, like water. Sometimes this comes to the surface, sometimes that, sometimes nothing. Nothing goes away.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

“Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a chain on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

“Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable, and see if we may not eff it after all.”
– Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

“I’ve had the sort of day that would make Saint Francis of Assisi kick babies.”
– Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

“Works that have a certain imperfection to them have an appeal for that very reason — or at least they appeal to certain types of people. [. . .] You discover something about that work that tugs at your heart — or maybe we should say the work discovers you.”
– Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

“You’re afraid of imagination. And even more afraid of dreams. Afraid of the responsibility that begins in dreams. But you have to sleep, and dreams are a part of sleep. When you’re awake you can suppress imagination. But you can’t suppress dreams.”
– Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Book #105: The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul

One of my favorite things about reading Douglas Adams is trying to explain it to other people. One night my dad and I were both reading and, probably inspired by my giggling over The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul from the love seat, he asked what my book was about.

“Thor is taking this girl to Valhalla to challenge Odin to a fight, because Odin made him count all the rocks in Scotland.”

“…that’s probably a metaphor for some deep thought, though, right?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said gleefully, and returned to the book.

It’s hilarious to think about the different things you can try to explain to people. Throughout the evening I’d occasionally say stuff like, “Oh my god, the guy got turned into a Coke machine!” or, “He turned the fighter pilot into an eagle!” or “The sofa can’t exist in that space because of time travel!” It sounds insane, because it is.

Another thing I love about Adams is the way he plays with language and turns sentences on their head. Dirk views the world in such a unique way, and you can tell by the way he thinks of things and says things. Immediately upon hearing about an “act of god” that destroyed an airport, Dirk wonders which god is responsible for this “act of god.” Things like that make me giddy.

I also appreciated this quote, which is a good example of how Adams can play with language in such a fun way:

“Let us think the unthinkable. Let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable, and see if we might eff it after all!”

Hilarious.

As a whole I didn’t enjoy The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul quite as much as Dirk Gently, however. It’s still Douglas Adams, so it’s still a zany romp through time, space, and dimensions. The pacing was just a bit off in this one, however. The crazy plots built and built, and then they were resolved a bit too quickly, which left me a tad unsatisfied. I was left happy, but also wanting more.

Douglas Adams is still Douglas Adams, however, and I still adored this book.

Rating: *****
Up Next: The Girls of Slender Means

Book #104: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

I. Love. Douglas Adams.

I first encountered Adams in high school when I went to see the movie “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” with my friends. It was silly and ridiculous and the humor was just my style. I fell in love with it and immediately read all the books in the series. They were awesome. I even named my car Marvin, after Marvin the Paranoid Android.

I read Dirk Gently in college, and it was such a pleasure. It was clever and fun, and I especially liked how well Adams worked in all the stuff with Coleridge and “Kubla Khan.” This was also about the time that I was into old-school Doctor Who, and when I figured out that Douglas Adams wrote the serial “City of Death” for the Fourth Doctor, I was surprised at how similar the plot of Dirk Gently was to it.

I enjoyed Dirk Gently just as much this time around. I still thought it was fun and clever, and I was still absolutely tickled with the connection to Coleridge and how Adams managed to tie up the threads of several seemingly unconnected and equally ridiculous plots.

It really is about the fundamental interconnectedness of all things

For me, I think, reading Douglas Adams is always going to be a sheer pleasure. He’s always zany, clever, witty, and hilarious. So much so that I read Dirk Gently’s sequel immediately after this one.

Rating: *****
Up Next: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

In Which I Ramble About Science Fiction

All right. Next up I’m stepping slightly out of my usual “zone” and reading some science fiction. I’m reading Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. According to Goodreads, this book has been advertised as “the most famous science fiction novel ever written.” I am not sure if this is true or not, because I hadn’t heard of it until now. Of course, I’m not really a science fiction expert.

Growing up, I wasn’t a huge science fiction fan. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that I’ve never felt especially compelled to read it or watch much sci-fi. I mean, I definitely watched the Star Wars movies a lot growing up. When they were first coming out, my mom was obsessed with the movies (read: Harrison Ford) and she couldn’t imagine having kids that didn’t like Star Wars. So, my brother, sister, and I grew up on the films. We even had toy lightsabers and played with them.

But really, Star Wars was my only experience with outer spacey stuff when I was a kid. I preferred my Harry Potter and fantasy stuff with knights and kings and wizards and mages (magi?). In college, though, I had the wonderful luck of striking up a best friendship with a girl who loves science fiction and space. Through her (and several other friends) I was introduced to Doctor Who and, subsequently, to Star Trek. Say what you want, but that show is amazing. I’m especially in love with the old-school, campy science fiction shows. You know, the original Doctor Who and Star Trek. But my friend Katie has gotten me into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (that show is SERIOUSLY good, guys) and Firefly (WHERE WAS THIS all my life??) as well as Doctor Who. I’m definitely on board with science fiction and outer space stuff now.

I still haven’t read a whole lot of this genre, however. I read Ender’s Game a few years back and remember liking it. I read The Time Machine in like fifth grade. Katie’s given me some suggestions, but I haven’t actually gotten around to reading them. I guess I’m still not entirely sure about science fiction. I like watching it, but, I don’t know, somehow reading sounds different. I did read (or try to read) Dune last summer. I should have been really into it, but I wasn’t. The whole time I was kind of like, “I want to read the next Game of Thrones book,” because I’d started the series in June. So, I just don’t know if I’m sold on the whole reading science fiction thing.

I’m still hopeful for Stranger in a Strange Land. I like the biblical reference and it’s cool that (I think) Earth is the strange land. I like looking at my world through different eyes. It makes everything weird and awesome. Anyway, here’s diving in!

Cheers!

Oh, right. I should mention. There is a science fiction series I like. I adore the entire Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy-in-five-parts. But that could very well be because it’s Douglas Adams, and, well…Douglas Adams.

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