Even, I Can’t

It would be difficult for me to disagree more strongly with anyone than I do with this literary heretic spewing textual heresy on SocialGalactic:

One book I’ve really come to hate is Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Doesn’t get more reddit than that. The author thinks he is much more clever than he is. I read it in high school, and was underwhelmed. Based on the hype, I was expecting something epic, but all I got was nonsense humor that wasn’t even funny.

First, Douglas Adams is one of the funniest authors to ever write a novel. I place the top five in this order:

  • PG Wodehouse
  • Douglas Adams
  • Owen Stanley
  • Bruce Bethke
  • Terry Pratchett

Wodehouse remains the greatest of the humor writers, not merely due to the very high standard he set, but the size of his ouevre and its reliability across a broad spectrum of topics and characters. Whether he was utilizing Hollywood actresses or agriculturally-inclined aristocrats and pigs, he could always find the humor in the situation.

Stanley is one of the funniest novelists ever and the fact that I convinced him to write The Promethean is my single greatest literary triumph. With regards to his first novel, The Missionaries, an SJW reporter once asked me what was the best book Castalia House had published, read it, and later told me: “It’s the most racist and offensive book I have ever read, and I just couldn’t stop laughing. Now I hate myself.”

The fact that Bruce Bethke essentially stopped writing fiction after Head Crash is one of the great literary tragedies of our age.

And while Terry Pratchett’s earliest work and later work can be forgotten, his middle period, when he matured as a writer, brought in an element of social commentary, and learned how to actually write humor instead of telling the reader what he was supposed to find funny, was very, very good.

Adams had more than a few tricks at his disposal, but his patented subdued punch line never ceased to be effective. My two favorites:

  • “Vogon poetry is of course, the third worst in the universe. The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their poet master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem “Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning” four of his audience died of internal haemorrhaging and the president of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos was reported to have been “disappointed” by the poem’s reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his 12-book epic entitled “My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles” when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save humanity, leapt straight up through his neck and throttled his brain. The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paul Neil Milne Johnstone of Redbridge, in the destruction of the planet Earth.
  • The bathroom was not large. The walls were panelled in old oak linenfold which, given the age and nature of the building, was quite probably priceless, but otherwise the fittings were stark and institutional. There was old, scuffed, black-and-white checked linoleum on the floor, a small basic bath, well cleaned but with very elderly stains and chips in the enamel, and also a small basic basin with a toothbrush and toothpaste in a Duralex beaker standing next to the taps. Screwed into the probably priceless panelling above the basin was a tin mirror-fronted bathroom cabinet. It looked as if it had been repainted many times, and the mirror was stained round the edges with condensation. The lavatory had an old-fashioned cast-iron chain-pull cistern. There was an old cream-painted wooden cupboard standing in the corner, with an old brown bentwood chair next to it, on which lay some neatly folded but threadbare small towels. There was also a large horse in the room, taking up most of it.