The Salmon of Doubt

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."

-- Douglas Adams

A Brief Introduction to The Introduction to The Introduction to the New Edition

The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time begins with one of the funniest pieces of writing I have ever come across. Preceding The Introduction to the New Edition, The Introduction to the Introduction to the New Edition (I2I2NE), written by comedian, actor, author, Monty Python troupe member and long time Adams friend and collaborator Terry Jones, sets the tone for what is to follow: comedy at its best; pages filled with that quintessential Monty Python-esque British wit that so characterizes the writing of Douglas Adams who, afterall, has been referred to as The Monty Python of Science Fiction. And so without further ado, I would like to begin this review with the aforementionedly preceding and said I2I2NE that was previously referred to in the above reference wherin I mentioned it:

“This Introduction to the Introduction to the New Edition is a highly significant one in the history of Introductions. Its presence on these pages means that this book has achieved the World Record for the Number of Introductions in a Book of This Nature. With the addition of this Introduction to the Introduction to the New Edition, The Salmon of Doubt can claim to have no less than three Introductions, one Prologue, and one Editor’s Note. That is two Introductions more than Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and one Introduction, One Prologue, and one Editor’s Note more than The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature. Even the Oxford English Dictionary can only boast one Preface, one Historical Introduction, one General Explanations, and a List of Abbreviations – that’s two Introductions short of The Salmon of Doubt.

You are, without a doubt, holding in your hands one of the best-introduced books in the English language. We hope you enjoy the Introduction to the New Edition that follows this introduction to it and continue to read on even into the book itself.”

-- Terry Jones, February 2, 2003

Following the world record number of introductions, the book is divided into three parts – Life, The Universe, And Everything, borrowed from the structure of, the site that Adams helped to create in 1999 (whose name was based on the third book in the Hitchhiker series, entitled, curiously enough: Life, the Universe and Everything).

The first two sections are a compilation of Adams interviews, articles, and essays, with the first section (“Life”) focusing on his life: his personal obsessions (Procol Harum, The Beatles, and rhinoceri, to name a few), hangover cures, his favorite author (P.G.Wodehouse), and his nose. The second section (“The Universe”) focuses on his technological obsessions (the Macintosh computer, the future, time and space travel, and his religious views (from an interview with American Atheist: “What message would you like to send to your atheist fans?” Adams: “Hello! How are you?”).

The third part (“Everything”) contains, among other elements, the first eleven chapters of Adams’ unfinished Dirk Gently novel, The Salmon of Doubt, as recovered in various forms from his four computers by his friend Chris Ogle following Adams’ untimely death in 2001 at the age of 49, and compiled and edited with the help of Peter Guzzardi. The chapters create the great beginnings of a story, brimming with Adams’ unique observational wit (“Follow that cab!” exclaimed Dirk, climbing into the back. “I been a cabbie over twenty years now,” said the cabbie as he slid back into traffic. “Never had anybody actually say that to me.”) We can only imagine where the story would have wound up, but we can say for certain that whatever our best imaginings of the rest of the story could be, they would surely fall short of the ride that Adams’ vibrant imagination would have taken us on.

So go forth then at once, my most esteemed and admirable young travelers, and read this tome hurriedly, while making haste about it, lest the tarpon will be certain.


can you Digg it?

The Notorious B.L.O.G.

Welcome, one and all, favored friends and foolish fiends, and thank you for stopping by. We are in for a ride. But then, isn’t that always the case?

What you are about to experience right now, my most privileged and pathological webatrons, is the first official post, the premier, if you will, of Liam James Leaven’s (that’s me) Blogtastically D.licious Humor Books Blog: The Most Bodaciously, Ridiculously, and Stupendously Blogalicious Blog in the Blogosphere. Comma, period.

At least, that was my first idea for the blog’s title. And what is your response? Obviously. Obviously, Mr. Leaven (please, call me Liam), that was your first choice for the blog’s title. What else could you possibly call it? I mean, what other title jumps out and cements itself to your eyeball with the startling conspicuosity and the in-your-face monster-strocity-ness of a sixteen year-old’s giant nose zit that has arrived just in time to impede the scent of the carnation which has been pinned to the lad’s rented lapel for the evening’s junior prom from reaching the interior of his nostrils?

I know, I know, but the problem with this title is the colon between the words Blog and The. You see, urls do not support colons. Much like proctocolectomies.

Another problem, one that I found without delay (for what fun is life, young bucks and lassies, if you do not incessantly, relentlessly, and all-the-time-edly conjure fantastically imagined blockades from the darkest depths of the I-can’t-do-it-ness that is embedded into the grooves of your helixhelix, so as to impede your forward motion throughout the day’s travails) is that I thought, being the writerly type, I ought to hunker on down, as if I were back home in Alaska, away from all these Washington insider types, polishing up my double-barrel while scouting the Bering Strait crossing thing-a-ma-doodle for commies, gotcha!, and try to be a little bit more creative.

You know, not opt for the obvious choice.

So my next instinct was to go in the other direction and tag it with the outlandishly creative moniker Blog. Like Blob. Except Blog. Get it? Minimalism at its best -- like a Kazimir Malevich painting. You know, one of those commies.

Next, with this name and brand in tow, I would hold a blogfest, which I would proceed to call maybe Blogstock, or Blogarama, or perhaps Blogapalooza, or something of the sort, and engineer Blog to be the breakout hit of the extravaganza. You do know that Woodstock was secretly organized by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young as a way to promote themselves, don’t you? An ingenious display of peace, love and marketing values >>> the original viral marketers. In a case of supreme prescience, they may even have instigated the Vietnam War.

But oh, again with the roadblocks, they are so big in my head, obtrusive and jagged, full of weight and heavy with burden, the blogistics of holding such an event are likely more than I could contend with. I mean, I never won any of those event planning challenges on The Apprentice. I would have to be a blogician, with the mad skillz of Chriss Angel, to be able to pull off such a coup.

So I took, ultimately, and in a Clintonian flash of “I feel you, brother” genius, the middle road, and came up with a title that I felt would welcome all weary Internet travelers: The Humor Books Blog. (Yes, I just linked to myself. It's like one of those wallets with the chain on it. This way I will always be able to find myself. It's deep, man.)

Alas, the sun is setting and, on the advice of my editor, a giant of a man who lives in a redwood treehouse in Santa Cruz and mainlines flax seed oil, it is time to step onto my bloggia to have a blogsicle, or something, lest I turn into a pumpkin like Bloggerella. So go forth then, favored friends, and get back to your numbers that need crunching, your papers that need pushing, and your office rumors that need milling (the best part of work, isn’t it?), so taxing this load that we must carry, and return in no more than a fortnight, to join me and indulge in some wordplay:

Like rappers we will be
You and me
Out on the streets
Up on our feets
Crackin’ our rhymes like B.I.G.
Standing so tall that all the fools can see
Except we’re here
On the Net
Like silicon soldiers up against the forces of a corporate Tet
I’m feeling pensive
We got to have some jousting virtuosity
To help this world catastrophe
It’s not hyperbole
It’s just reality
A place, a time
The enemy a crime
Victims are the people and they’ll charge you like a bull
A ram
With a superhero Shazam
To the Bastille
For real
To you and me that’s AIG
And from the streets the people plea
We paid their bonus
Now what about me


Hey, don’t forget about me, Reader, don't you know that you can't scare off a maverick like me that easily . . . oh, wait, I see another commie trying to get in. Здравствуйте, Comrade, you can’t hide from me. Why, I can spot a ushanka from two miles away with my rectangular, commie-spotter glasses that Thelma from Scooby Doo gave me when those meddling kids were headed up to Alaska in their van to work in the canneries for the summer, you betcha! Come to Alaska – it’s cold! A ushanka’d commie looks just like a polar bear on its belly (or a bundled-up Todd trying to get away from me on his snow machine when I want waffles. Or a video! That darned Levi, little bugger, spilling the beans like that).

Oh, it’s not that I don’t like yer communism, Commie, I love communism, only in my form of gotcha communism I replace “the state” and “the government” with “big business, mostly banking, pharmaceutical, insurance and oil companies, including those in the upper ranks of these companies and those wonderful folks connected to those in the upper ranks of these companies, together with any other “good old boy or gal” who happens to be walking on by on and wants in on the action,” and these folksy folks, you know, just like you all, the hockey moms and the joe plumber types of the world, own the country’s property and means of production in my form of gotcha communism and they put forth all of their energies towards keeping the masses down, preserving their power and lining their pockets, while those in government act as their pawns and partners.

But I don’t call it communism, commie, oh no, over here I cloak my gotcha communism with stealth-like terms such like, that is to say, in order to, “family values” and “patriotism”. This way, anyone who says they are against my will, which comes straight from God since I am the chosen one who was chosen for a huge book deal, well, I just call them a socialist, and then I look to my double-agent Republican Comrades, and we say, “Gotcha!” (awkward wink).

Now you and Katie may say I don’t know my stuff, you know — Supreme Court decisions, newspaper titles; oh, and that “Bush Doctrine” thingy – boy you got me good with that one, Charlie, like what do you think I went to Harvard or something with these danged questions? -- but this Poppy Queen can tell you that I do know how to pull the moose dressing over at least twenty-five percent of the American public’s eyes. That’s like . . . a lot of eyes! Many, many eyes. And they’re all looking at me. Me me me me me me me!

can you Digg it?