It’s pretty rare that I read a book I’d describe as a total miss. That’s because I usually don’t even begin reading books I don’t think I’ll enjoy. Unfortunately, I came across a dud in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I read it first because two of my daughters had read and enjoyed it. Also, I’d heard about it for years and wondered what it was about. Turns out — I’m still not totally sure! But, I persevered and did read the whole thing. It was just over 200 pages, and small pages at that.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
I guess you could call the book science fiction. It starts out on Earth — but not for long. Earth is destroyed within the first few chapters. Totally destroyed! But the book goes on, with Earth’s lone survivor on a spaceship with other creatures. There are many galaxies out there, and the spaceship travels through many of them.
I have to say that a lot of the time I didn’t really grasp what was going on with this book. There were bits of dry humor thrown in here and there:
“‘You know,’ said Arthur, ‘it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space, that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.’
‘Why, what did she tell you?’
‘I don’t know, I didn’t listen.'”
That sort of thing.
Then there were some bits where I guess the author was trying to go for deep, existential stuff — a whale suddenly coming into existence for just moments before being destroyed, a bowl of flowers falling off of a table and ‘thinking’ “Oh no, not again.” “Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.”
Are you confused yet? If so, join me. If not, I think your literary analysis skills are superior to mine. I told daughter #3 that if she enjoyed this one, she ought to give “Ulysses” a try — that was the other big classic that I tried and totally gave up on (in my defense, it was hundreds of pages, and I wasn’t willing to stick with it for that long).
So now I’m actually really curious to see how many of you have actually read this book. If so, what did you think? Please enlighten me as to what I’m missing that makes it so popular.
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