“So long, and thanks for all the fish.”
I’ve recently been endeavouring to read a lot more. There are three main factors for this, some more valid than others, but all contributory nonetheless.
- Whilst music or podcasts during my commute to work are pleasant, I feel like the time could be spent more constructively. This, and one can only involuntarily make nauseated expressions when listening to ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’ for so long, before fellow commuters are left with the moral quandary of enquiring if there’s something medically wrong with me, or observing London’s unwritten ‘no social interaction’ commute policy.
- I have a terrible velleity to picking up books. I’ll take plenty of recommendations, and offer assurances that I’ll “definitely look into it!” (hint: I probably won’t). That’s just a terrible character flaw. Reading is a fantastic past-time, and shouldn’t be explained away with borderline apathy.
- Despite possessing an impressive vocabulary, having my writing described as “acerbically witty” (H. Kishi) and being told these posts share elements of writing not unlike Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett (M. Sikström), other considerably less favourable accusations have been made about my character. Fairly recently I had a Russian friend, Anya, visit me in London. Let me preface my imminent fury with the declaration that Anya is a very smart woman. She’s well boned up on literature, music, and international politics, amongst other things. It’s because of this, that shortly after we ended up having dinner with my Father and his wife, the latter commented on my choice of acquaintance following Anya’s departure.
“Anya is very pleasant, isn’t she? I’m quite surprised you’re friends with her, Adam. She’s far too cultured for you.”
I’m undecided as to what’s worse; the fact that somebody could have the sheer gall to say that under the guise of civilised conversation, or that my first (unuttered) reaction to this was “You f*****g what?”, which may dangerously lend itself to proving this unsolicited theory at least half way to being correct.
The benefit of this rather unwelcome sentiment however, is that I have found myself reading more. At first, I pondered if it was out of spite, which let’s agree now is a terrible reason to throw oneself into literature. The more I thought about it however, I came to the satisfying acceptance that this was the perfect opportunity to delve into the recommendations that friends had been offering, or texts that I’ve long known and recognised, but never actually got around to reading.
Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten through Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ (for which a colleague commented “Euurrghh! You’re a man, why are you reading women’s porn at lunch?!” — I can only assume he confused Dorian Gray with Christian Grey, which I think says more about him than it does me), continued efforts at finishing Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ (which I am continually failing to do), and most recently, Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, which I have absolutely fallen in love with. Adams’ asides are equally as entertaining as the main story, even when they contribute absolutely nothing to the plot.
“For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.”
“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”
“The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question “How can we eat?”, the second by the question “Why do we eat?”, and the third by the question “Where shall we have lunch?”
The combination of the mundane and absurd creates a hilarious statement; whether it’s subtle, exaggerated, or even holds truth in the farcical. I’m curious to see if working my way through the rest of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series (and the Dirk Gently series of books, which BBC America has recently rebooted for TV) will have an effect on how I write, considering the newfound appreciation.
I’ll guess I’ll cross that hyperspace bypass when I come to it.