Salmon of Doubt Paperback – Feb 1 2004
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The Salmon of Doubt is the late Douglas Adams's third comic novel about "holistic detective" Dirk Gently. Ten tantalising chapters of this unfinished project are padded to book size with about 50 short Adams pieces, mostly non-fiction.
Additional material includes introductions by Stephen Fry and editor Peter Guzzardi (who stitched together the Salmon fragment from disk drafts), The Guardian's Adams biography, Richard Dawkins's farewell piece, and the order of the memorial service.
The non-fiction by the man himself ranges from perhaps a dozen meaty articles and speeches to brief squibs, interview/questionnaire answers and tiny asides like:
We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works. How do you recognise something that is still technology? A good clue is if it comes with a manual.
There are enjoyable pieces on computers (especially), atheism, dogs, manta rays on the Great Barrier Reef, the Save the Rhino stunt climb, and PG Wodehouse. Much of the rest is ephemeral; you can't help reflecting that Adams himself never chose to collect all this lightweight newspaper work.
Lovers of his fiction will welcome the Hitch-Hiker-related short stories "The Private Life of Genghis Khan" and "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe", despite the latter's dreadfully dated political punch line.
What of The Salmon of Doubt itself, a quarter of this book? There's a glimpse of a far-future estate agent's utopia, a woman asking Dirk Gently to investigate a cat that's literally only half there (his puzzling reluctance to take the case may echo Adams's own feelings about the novel), Gently's capricious trip to America in response to an unknown client's total lack of instructions, the tragic death of a rhino as perceived by the rhino... Many teasing questions; we'll never know the answers.
Overall it's a must-have for devoted Adams fans and completists, a likely disappointment (though with pleasant exceptions) for new readers. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Edited by Peter Guzzardi and with an introduction by Christopher Cerf, this bittersweet collection comprises letters, fragments of ideas for books, films and TV, ruminations on a diverse array of subjects and a good bit of a final unfinished novel by the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, who died in May of last year. Included are a letter to the editor of a U.K. boy's magazine (written in 1965, when Adams was 12); a reminiscence about his lifelong love for the Beatles, written when he was in his 40s; a 1991 piece from Esquire entitled "My Nose"; and an undated article for the Independent espousing his preference for whiskey. Also on hand are a q&a in which he identifies the most interesting natural structure as being a "2,000-mile-long fish in orbit around Jupiter, according to a reliable report in the Weekly World News"; a spiritual encounter with a giant manta ray while testing a mechanical diving device at Australia's Great Barrier Reef; an affecting introduction to P.G. Wodehouse's unfinished novel, Sunset at Blandings; an account of a Save the Rhino pilgrimage across Africa; ruminations on computerization; and a philosophical address about the authorship of the universe entitled "Is There an Artificial God?" Two sketches "The Private Life of Genghis Khan" and "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" from the Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book, 1986, are also here, as are 10 chapters from various versions of the title novel-in-progress. National advertising.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have seldom looked forward so much and then been so disappointed in a book as I was with Salmon of Doubt. It's okay for what it is -- a mishmash of previously published articles and columns, random musings culled from DNA's computer after his death, interviews, reprints, and the beginning of his unfinished and incomprehensible novel.
The marketing led me to believe I was going to be reading a new installment in HHGTTG, not an anthology. Even the book itself implied that we'd be getting another installment of HHGTTG, and specifically states that it's not a Dirk book. Well, it may not be Dirk Gently (even if he is the protagonist), but it's also not HHGTTG. And the whole "novel" comprises only 80 or so of the 280 or so pages of the book.
Save your money. Re-read HHGTTG instead.
"The Salmon of Doubt" is actually only about 80 pages of a Dirk Gently story. This gives Adams a chance to create his usual elaborate set-ups, but we will never know of where he was planning on going with it since he has, unfortunantly, passed on from this life. The rest of the 300+ pages is filled with the bits that made up his life: on-line interviews, some short stories, articles that he wrote, and some of his personal writings from his computer journal. These represent the best of Adams. Whether he is jogging with dogs that don't belong to him or learning to cope with Frank the Vandal, his humor and wit shine through like a bright flash light beam in your eyes.
This book is a must have for any Douglas Adams fan or for anyone who has heard of the man, but isn't quite sure if they'll like his work. If such persons have any bit of intelligence left in their beings, then they'll love it.
"Salmon of Doubt" is so absolutely and quite wonderfully Douglas.
This collection of articles, interviews, random thoughts and unfinished novel is an genuine treat to read. His unmistakable voice shines through on each and every page. For someone who professed to agonize over the whole "writing thing", Douglas did it with a style that is often imitated, yet never will be duplicated.
I was delighted to see "Cookies" make its way into this collection. I laughed when he included in the 4th Hitchhiker's novel, and was fortunate enough to hear him retelling this true story. He had everyone at this Chicago hotel bar in absolute hysterics some years ago, reliving the moment. I have never forgotten it.
"Maggie and Trudie" also stands out as one of my other favorite entries here. As does "The Private Life of Genghis Khan". The interviews included also give a further glimpse into this marvelously gifted man.
There is no doubt in my mind that the ever-so brief "Salmon of Doubt" story/novel itself would have been a joy to read had he been around to finish it. It would have worked perfectly well as the next Dirk Gently (or possible 6th HH) novel. I found myself reading this portion quickly, watching the pages dwindle and knowing it was going to abruptly end. It did. Now I'm left wondering what happened to Dirk and Desmond the rhinoceros. It's going to bug me till the end of time. Which I am sure would thrill Douglas to no end.
I'll have to ask Douglas when I see him at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe how it all ends.
The book is more than the uncompleted novel, however. The would-be third Dirk Gently installment occupies fewer than 100 pages at the volume's end. The rest is taken up by an amalgam of tidbits from Adams' life. The book's success is the essays, short stories, letters, interviews, many of them in print for the first time in Salmon. They accomplish what no novel ever could; they portray Adams' as a human being.
Salmon is to Douglas Adams' what I, Asimov is to Isaac Asimov. It's not an autobiography, exactly, but it's as close as print gets to establishing a dialogue between the reader and the author. A great many people admire Adams' for is brilliant wit. This book allows us to admire him for much more.
I frequent a message board where a rating of "5" means "Comedy Gold," and that is why I give A Salmon of Doubt five stars. It is hilarious. The essay, "Cookies," used as a plot point in So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, is a brilliantly narrated anecdote. The reflections on canine behavior in Maggie and Trudie gave me a sleep-preventing giggle fit. The novel portion is jerky in places. An astute reader will spot some filler lines, gaps in continuity, and things that would most likely have been left out of the final version, but no one is pretending that it is whole. Salmon is exactly what it sets out to be; it is a requiem, a tribute to a great man.
Most recent customer reviews
Great reading for all who love Douglas Adams' work. It's fascinating to connect various bits and pieces in his interviews and articles to his books, his life experiences to... Read morePublished on Oct. 28 2012 by Svetlana
I would first like to emphasize that I love the writings of Douglas Adams. I first picked up a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when I was 7 years old and never looked... Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2010 by Asha Lil
It's fitting that this audio edition contains guests and narrators like Stephen Fry, Richard Dawkins, Terry Gilliam, et. al. Read morePublished on March 5 2004 by Jim Allen
This has got to be the poorest mastering job I have ever found for an Audio Book. The actual contents are fine; the recording is good, the reading is good, and the material is... Read morePublished on Sept. 13 2003 by Jory K. Prum
Everybody should read 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'!
That is both definite and demanded! Read more
Everybody should read 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'!
That is both definite and demanded! Read more
A man who really knew where his towel was. When the world lost Douglas Adams in a gym in Santa Barbara, it lost one of its most incisive wits and piercingly brilliant... Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2002 by Larissa
The voices are wonderful, sound is excellent. The CD format could be greatly superior to a regular book, especially for those who listen and drive, if only:
1. Read more
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