Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Salmon of Doubt

A few days ago, May 25th, was Towel Day, celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams, author of the fabulous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and other funny stuff, including the essay collection, Salmon of Doubt which I want to share with you today.

And why towels and Towel Day, you might ask? Here’s what the Hitchhiker’s Guide has to say about it:
“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value...

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

So there you have it - Adams was a man who always knew where his towel was (probably). So, on Towel Day, I always think about a thing that someone once mentioned on a blog I visit frequently, that it's a real shame that Douglas Adams is gone, for many reasons, of course, but not the least of which is that he'd have had a hell of a blog. A blog which she - and I - would dearly have loved to be reading right now.

Douglas Adams didn't have a blog, but he did write freelance articles for magazines as well as a regular column for The Independent (a London paper). Some of the best of these various articles plus some short stories and the rough beginning of a Dirk Gently novel are compiled here in the wonderful Salmon of Doubt.

You don't have to like funny science fiction or any science fiction at all to enjoy this one. He covers travel, strange men in smelly rhinoceros suits, swimming with (or at least near) manta rays, the Beatles, Procol Harum, technology in general, Macs in particular, and the life of being a writer completely hopeless at meeting deadlines. Yes, there's bits about Hitchhiker's, naturally. It's also a handy reference for making a perfect cup of British tea, in case that's something you ever find yourself likely to do.

Most of the articles are quite short, so it's a good book to take along when you know you'll have only moments to sit and read. The paperback fits nicely into a small purse or backpack for easy carry. (Though I imagine the audio version is wonderful as well, for I'm certain they got someone with a lovely British voice to do the reading.)

I really enjoyed this little book and found myself laughing out loud about something on almost every page. If you need a giggle, or a really good cup of tea, give the Salmon of Doubt a try sometime.

And do keep your towel handy!

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