From the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value — you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-tohand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
Today is Towel Day, which celebrates the life and works of the amazing author Douglas Adams. I discovered Adams when I was killing time in a second hand book store as a teenager and fell in love with the cover art on a beaten up copy of The Long Dark Tea Time of The Soul (the second Dirk Gently book). Dirk Gently was my gateway drug and I was hooked after the first page, cementing a lifelong love affair with comedy science fiction.
In honour of this most holy of days, I decided to read Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine. I’ve watched the accompanying documentary a few times and adored it so I knew this book would bring me quite a lot of joy, along with a little sadness.
Summary (from Goodreads)
“Very funny and moving…The glimpses of rare fauna seem to have enlarged [Adams’] thinking, enlivened his world; and so might the animals do for us all, if we were to help them live.”
THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD
Join bestselling author Douglas Adams and zooligist Mark Carwardine as they take off around the world in search of exotic, endangered creatures. Hilarious and poignant–as only Douglas Adams can be–LAST CHANCE TO SEE is an entertaining and arresting odyssey through the Earth’s magnificent wildlife galaxy.
Told with Adams trademark humor, it’s a poignant look at some dangerously endangered species that wouldn’t normally get the spotlight. His descriptions are so incredibly vivid you almost feel like you are there with him on his epic trek around the globe. Even given the subject it never gets too heavy, interdispersing some fairly horrifying stories and statistics with lighter anecdotes about stuffed komodo dragons and ineffective mosquito nets.
The Not So Good
Over the years, I’ve tried to get a lot of friends to read Adams and they all have a similar complaint – his signature writing style is a little disorientating. As you can see from the excerpt above, his writing is an only slightly edited stream of consciousness that can be hard to grasp at first. Once you hop on board his train of thought though, he’s like nothing else.
My Rating: [user 5]