Posthumous trunkful of items found on four beloved Mac computers belonging to the late high-techie best known for his first novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979).
Chosen from over 2,579 entries, magazine pieces, Web site squibs, etc., the collection’s longest piece is “The Salmon of Doubt,” ten chapters selected and rearranged from those Adams wrote over a ten-year period for his novel-in-progress, the third book in the Dirk Gently Holistic Detective Agency series that also included The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1989). A long prologue, written in 2000 by British journalist Nicholas Wroe, includes much interview material and gives a sketch of Adams’s life and ebullience, of his writing venues and love of Monty Python, his first $2 million-dollar contract with an American publisher while he was still in his mid-20s, his adored but angst-ridden fallow periods, which required much gadget-buying, and so on. The pieces here bounce with charm: Adams discourses on awaiting his favorite magazine at 12, his endless love affair with the Beatles, his curiously substantial nose that will not admit air, the refreshing shock of reading Richard Dawkins on evolution, dogs excitedly hurling themselves against walls, “The Little Computer That Could,” his radical atheism, whiskey, the writing life, the rhinoceros, Bach, and “The Private Life of Genghis Khan” (written with Monty Python’s Graham Chapman). Also included: his introduction to The Meaning of Liff and a superb appreciation of P.G. Wodehouse’s unfinished last novel, Sunset at Blandings. Fans will dig the paranormal but incomplete “The Salmon of Doubt” itself. Dirk Gently first turns down then accepts a job to find the missing half of a Siamese cat whose front half conducts itself as if the aft half were still there. Among Dirk’s friends is Thor, the ancient Norse God of Thunder, who bellows into telephones from ten feet off, “which made actual conversation well-nigh impossible.”
A beautiful sendoff, Douglas, wherever you are.