It’s never easy to write a comedic novel; it’s not always easy to understand a joke either. That’s why I hardly read comedies, although one of my all-time favorite book, Tom Sawyer, a classic by Mark Twain, is “funny”. So far no modern comedic book has interested me greatly, not “Then he ate my boy’s entrances”, nor “Diary of a wimpy kid”. I have always been a stranger to this genre. “Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” only came to my attention when a friend recommended it, which was also when I found myself surrounded by too many stressed and sad tragic novels that I decided to take a break and try something I don’t read often: a cult, funny, hilarious guide to nowhere. Funnily, I realized, comedies aren’t so hard to read after all.
Very rarely do I find a book that I want to finish in one sitting. It needs to be engaging, thrilling, unique, outstanding. It needs to have the pull, a different taste that makes me sacrifice sleep for. And then some magic perhaps, too keep things succinctly logical, emotional, yet at the same time taking some detours to talk about details and accentuate the inconspicuousness. Then perhaps, mix in some sarcasm to make me laugh, some satire to make me think, some irony to make me surprised. Then put that in a shiny box, a disguise so I don’t feel like I’m reading a novel.
And finally, the book needs the wit and intelligence to make me not feel bad when I laugh at almost everything written in it. Yes, I laughed at the Earth being called “harmless”, then corrected to “mostly harmless”; or how Arthur “wish [he]’d listened to what [his] mother told [him] when[he] was young” right before dying of “asphyxiation in deep space”; and then the short-lived existent of the poor whale (yes, it’s random; in fact it’s such an improbable thing that happened at a “eight million seven hundred and sixty-seven thousand one hundred and twenty-eight to one against” chance, but still happened, funnily).
At some points, “Hitchhiker’s Guide” made me think of “The Gates” because of the often references to math and sciences (probability from Math 12 is haunting me), but then I realized Douglas Adams’ book is about something very different. It all comes down to “The Ultimate Question” of “Life, the Universe and Everything“. Is it worth ten million years of programming and calculating? Is it worth all the fighting and decimation of the galaxy? Is it really that important? Now, to humans, life is so frustratingly important; we take everything into account and treat it seriously, but after all, it could just simply be like “most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem. Most of thesewere largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”
In just four lines, Adams just summed up everything about human society. Sounds problematic? Well, do what Arthur does. “Since he was going to have to live in the place, he reasoned, he’d better start finding out something about it.“
Or we could simply laugh it off. Take a vacation to the galaxy perhaps? Don’t forget your guide! (and towel too.)