Thursday, March 31, 2011

"And Another Thing..." By Eoin Colfer [Jeff's Preview]

Let me make one thing clear: I love Douglas Adams.

His "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" was one of the first books I'd ever read that was not a chore to get through. At the time - 5th grade, to be exact - I capital h Hated reading. But Adams had a pleasantly humorous writing style that I latched right onto.

The bewildered looks on my 10-year-old classmates' faces as I described the action and characters of the book - in my own, meandering, 5th-grade way, none the less - must have been very amusing to see. (Except, I guess, if you were my teacher at the time, who did not grade my presentation very favorably (though I've always been convinced that that was because of a conspiracy involving my teachers and their dislike of this boy-child who was so unlike the smart (and dull) older sister who they'd had just three years earlier.))

But I was hooked. He fit right into my conception of high comedic art. (On a crooked shelf crammed between Monty Python and Abbot and Costello) And, unlike so many other things you come to at the age of 10, he continued to be a source of mirth and inspiration throughout my life.

And when he died, I cried.

And when they announced that the guy who wrote "Artemis Fowl" was going to pen a new book in series, I was livid. "How DARE they?!" I raged. The pain of realizing I'd never get to read another new word by one of my favorite authors was compounded by the fury of being given impostor's words and told "here's more of the same". As if writing like Adams was something that could be figured out and passed on to another.

Next thing I knew, the book had been out for nearly two years and I realized I wasn't as mad about it anymore. Funny, that, eh?

So I'll pick this one up and give it a fair shake.

At its best, it'll read like it was written by someone doing a very good impression of Douglass Adams. At it's worst, I'll feel like I've invited a stranger over to my house and given him crayons and a first edition copy of "Dirk Gently" and said, "Go to town!"

But one thing that I won't allow this book to do is change how I feel about Douglas Adams.


BUY IT: "And Another Thing..." By Eoin Colfer

"And Another Thing" Eoin Colfer [Tim's Preview]

Douglas Adams was my childhood hero. i love the guy. i came to him through a series of audiocassetted radio plays, rented from my local library. And through an aggravatingly difficult word-based videogame that's now legendary. I think my friend John first told me to check him out. After listening to the plays i went out and read the books, all three in the trilogy. A few years later, while dropping my older brother off for his first year at college, i spotted it. bright blue cover, green smiling planet with his thumb out. the...what? the FOURTH book? in the TRILOGY? it was madness. And of course that wasn't the end. and apparently it's still not.

I don't know Eion Colfer well, but i did read one of those Artemis Fowl books (a graphic novel version of it) a few years ago. i liked it, but he didn't come across as particularly Adams-esque. And that's the big test for this book. will it come across as pure Adams, partly adamsesque, a pale imitation, or something altogether different? I've always held that, since he started in radio, Adams' voice is stronger than most modern writers. And really, as amazing as the plot or the "journey" or what have you might be, it's the voice that carries it all. And I think its safe to say that Adams could write the autobiography of a coffeepot and we'd be celebrating it years and years later. He was a spinner, one of the best.

I've seen pullquotes of Colfer's recently that tell me he's probably up to the task. he can be funny, and i've a feeling he'll ease into Adams' meter ok.

There's this documentary i saw about Philip k Dick. A friend of his is talking about how much he misses him. He says something like "when someone dies, i think what you miss most is just talking to the person. the sound of their voice". That's why i'm hoping, even if i know it's a trick, that i'll be fooled into feeling like this great voice is back in my life again, for a little bit. Because I know Adams is a famed atheist, friend to Richard Dawkins, and would probably be aghast if i suggested that his voice was somehow still "alive!". But i'm not asking for that. Not really. After all, the radio plays were his voice being spoken by other people, weren't they? So maybe this has a chance. I hope so. Because Adams was my childhood hero, but he's sort of my adult one as well. And i like listening to him.


*(because B plusses always seem better to me than A minuses. A minuses are snooty perfectionists, but they're not even that great at it. They're low enough to to be seen sniffling their noses at the 'lesser grades')