I started this blog and this reading the Top 100 Novels challenge as a way to step outside of the choices I normally make. Such as reading the same books. Doing the same things. Watching the same shows. Going to the same places. I am trying to break free from the sameness of it all.
On that level, the reading challenge has definitely been a success. I am reading books I would most likely not have read otherwise and exposing myself to different types of literary style. However, it also means I am sometimes reading a book that doesn't do it for me. Like the last one The Home and The World by Rabindranath Tagore. I'm sure a literary analyst could find so many reasons why it is a wonderful novel, but for me, not so much.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would also fall into the "not so much" category. It was an easy enough read. The writing style was fine, but the content for me was the problem. The characters had no depth. I didn't really care about what happened to them. The setting was constantly changing and I didn't really care where they were. I guess that's the bottom line. The story just didn't make me care.
As I mentioned last time, this book was originally a radio series on the BBC in the 1970s. I think in that format it would have been much more engaging. It has a Monty Python feel to it. The humour is dry, often ridiculous and very British in style. Sometimes I would find myself smiling and I read through a section like this one:
"You know," said Arthur thoughtfully, "all this explains a lot of things. All through my life I've had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was."
"No," said the old man, "that's just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that."
"Everyone?" said Arthur. "Well if everyone has that perhaps it means something! Perhaps somewhere outside the Universe we know..."
"Maybe. Who cares?" said Slartibartfast before Arthur got too excited.
I am going to watch the movie that came out a few years ago and see if I like it better that way. I think that by radio or movie the characters would come to life a lot more and hopefully make the whole thing more interesting and funny. For me, this type of humour just doesn't translate well onto the page.
Another obvious theme running through this book is the fact that there is no God. At least, not as far as the author is concerned. God, theology, ultimate purpose are all mocked as a waste of time. Of course, my viewpoint is the opposite of this and perhaps it was this undercurrent that put me off as well.
So, in summary I would say, if you like dry British humour, and you are looking for some light reading, you could check out this book. It doesn't take that long to read, it has some chuckles in it, and maybe it will make you question your ultimate purpose. Wouldn't that be ironic.