“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

I try to stay away from the news. Rarely is it popular to report good news. Is it only me or does the news of one’s good fortune usually leave you feeling more jealous and resentful than joyous? Must be my cynical side coming out. I want to be happy for others but envy soon follows. When it is my turn to reap some good fortune? Why does God give us the trials more than others. Yes, we should be thankful for our trials and look at them as an opportunity than a curse. Sounds good. Raise your hand if you are the first one willing to sign up to adopt a special needs child that has a short life span. I give so much credit to those that do. You are amazing people. My point. Nobody wants to have a difficult life right. We accept the lot given and move on but there’s envy of those whose lot seems easier even though it may not be. Is this only me?? There is a time for sorrow and a time for laughter. That’s somewhere in the Bible!

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, a time of laughter science fiction novel filled with surprises just about around every corner. A man by the name of Arthur Dent is about to  unexpectedly loses his house to make room for a bypass road. Attempting to thwart the bulldozer’s progress the construction workers explains “the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last 9 month” which Dent found earlier “sitting in a cellar, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory (bathroom) with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of Leopard'”. In its irony the author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, alien Ford Prefect, was just finishing his research on the planet Earth noted as “mostly harmless“, when an extra terrestrial Vogon ship hovering in the sky announced on the PA of its plans to make room for a hyperspatial express by eliminating the planet. It stated “All planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department in the Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years.” This is the subtle use of the novel’s humor throughout the novel.

Dent along with Prefect barely escape the fate of the rest of Earth’s inhabitant by the use of Prefect’s Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic to hail a passing spaceship for a lift. The mode of travel for hitchhiker’s, “Don’t Leave Home Without It” and also don’t forget your towel. Wait…what?? Yeah you will have to find out why for yourself. The two travelers get discovered as a stow away on the Vogon ship, get kicked out into space to die of asphyxiation at the loss of oxygen in the matter of minutes. Along comes the Heat of Gold ship stolen by the president of the Imperial Galactic Government, Zaphod Beeblebrox to the rescue. The ship powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive found the least probable event to happen in space at that time is the rescue of these two doomed victims. The result. Again they barely escape with their lives.

 

www.wallmay.net
http://www.wallmay.net

On board “The Heart of Gold” they encounter an Earth woman, Trillian, who actually had a conversation with Dent at a party right before Zaphod persuaded her to come with him on grounds that he was “from another planet. Along with her and Zaphod the ships occupants were a depressed robot constructed with a Genuine People Personality feature and a cheery annoying know-it-all Sirius Cybernetics Shipboard Computer which controlled every part of the ship.

Once they all become acquainted with each other again Zaphod’s mission is revealed. The purpose of stealing “The Heart of Gold” is to find the most improbable planet that ever existed. Magrathea, the planet that custom-made other planets for their suitors, “gold planets, platinum planets, and soft rubber planets with lots of earthquakes”.  Folklore stated that it fell out of existence when “became the richest planet of all time and the rest of the Galaxy was reduced to abject poverty.

galleryhip.com
galleryhip.com

Who purchased Earth? Yes, Earth too was created by the Magratheans but I will not cheese up the surprise. Whomever had Earth created was preparing the prophetic planet and its inhabitants to discover the question to the answer of the question posed to the greatest computer ever to be made designed by the second greatest computer, Deep Thought, of “the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.” However, Earth was destroyed right before the time when the greatest computer was to reveal the Ultimate question to the answer, 42, to the aforementioned question.

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is the first book of a trilogy so naturally I will have to continue the series or be satisfied with not knowing the Ultimate question to…you know the rest! Not a dull moment throughout this exciting adventure story that takes the reader through Adams version of life in the great known. I have quoted more than a few lines from the book to prepare who choose to undergo a brain lobotomy in English style humor. After reading a few chapters my wife commented that it’s many crazy made of words reminded her of doing a MadLib. I have filled out a few with her family and they have come up with some very descriptive off the wall words. If anyone reading this blog would like to share in their best made up words I would love to hear them. Perhaps I will bust out the best ones next time we fill out a Mad Lib.

 

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#28 “The Sea” by John Banville

Here we go again. It’s morning at a summer rental house that is in walking distance from the Oregon Coast. I lift my daughter, Layla, out of her chair due to another freaking cluster of seizures hoping that a change of scenery will quell the storm. I carry her out of the house walking across the street to a vacant house’s backyard which abuts up against a cliff overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean. Up near the edge I pace the length of the house and I continue to examine my daughter’s face for the ticks and twitches of a seizure refusing to leave. They’ve abated and I breath a sigh of relief, but the damage is done. Cradled in my arms lays a limp and exhausted Layla. I’m at the point of never asking why this has to happen to such a beautiful and innocent child. Thus is the nature of life.

 

Loved eating the sand!
Maggie loved eating the sand!

 

Closing my eyes I breath in the cool breeze and exhale the worries and anxieties of the moment, the past, and the future. Opening my eyes I then stare out into the ocean when my senses become immersed in the scene before me. The deserted beach and blue ocean, misty morning air, and the only sound is of the rushing waves. I love this. Then a thought occurs that being out in its element would change my opinion. It’s dangerous out there. The swells sucking underwater its inhabitants, the strong waves capsizing boats, the hypothermia leading to Jack Dawson’s (DiCaprio) death in “Titanic”, and the blood thirsty sharks and other lethal animals residing in its depths. Hmm, from my perspective on safe land the ocean has this rejuvenating spiritual quality but out in its depths it can devour you in a heartbeat.

The setting for John Banville’s “The Sea” is never mentioned but I’m guessing it’s in Ireland since that’s his home. My wife, originally from the state of Oregon, studied abroad in Ireland for a summer and her description of the country has coined a phrase by me that “Oregon is the Ireland of the United States.”

  • Both are known for their drinking. Portland, Oregon was ranked as America’s Best Beer City according to Travel and Leisure.
  • Both have cool wet climates throughout the year that result in  lush green vegetation covering the land.
  • Ireland’s green picturesque rolling hills compare to Oregon’s scenic mountains covered in towering pine trees.
  • Ireland’s history is steeped in folklore. Walk around downtown Portland or watch “Portlandia” and see they are actually living in a mythological world.
  • Ireland is surrounded by the cold Atlantic Ocean. The waters of Oregon’s coast is likewise cold.
literallife.wordpress.com
literallife.wordpress.com

Ironically for me the novel takes place at a summer rental home called “The Cedars” also close to the sea. Max, the main character of the story, reminisces over a few significant events of his past including a time in his childhood when he spent an August summer with “The Grace family”. A pivotal month of his life when he experienced his first and second loves and the feelings synonymous with them.  Sweaty hands, jittery nerves, the first electrifying touch when lovers first hold hands, the tingly sensation moving through the body at the kiss, and the smooth feel intimately caressing her inner thigh bordering on the untrodden forbidden land. I recall my first experience thinking “I can’t believe this is happening!” Of course, no great book is without a tragic ending. How nice!

The story moves from that summer to his present state and the torturous memories when finding out his wife was going to die from cancer and her slow painful demise. Banville’s painful description of what he was going through with his wife’s slow passing wasn’t fun to read but enlightening, realizing that many have and many will struggle through the intimate death of a loved one. These words can be of some comfort to know these feelings are normal.

I found this novel a heavy hearted version of a “Wonder Years” episode where Max instead of Kevin Arnold relives the two traumatic events of his life. While writing my rough draft of this blog I continued to ask why he did this? I was about to leave that question unanswered until the thought popped into my head. Max’s wife, a photographer, while dying in a hospital went to the other patients’ rooms and painstakingly took pictures of their wounds (missing limbs, a mother cradling a sick baby, a person laying in bed in a full body cast) and described this as her dossier. Details of a person’s past when collected defines who that person was. Max,I believe was paralleling her behavior in the same way. When all gathered together what was he hoping to reveal about himself? Read it and find out.

There will come a time for all of us when we will form our own dossier. Chances are it will not be filled with memories of good housekeeping, well manicured lawns, or reading accomplishments. Only a few significant moments of doing something amazing or feelings of utter regret letting those moments slip through our fingers. Unfortunately, as described in “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (also on “The List”) which my wife Amy will be so kind as to share her thoughts on the novel, in movies they have many takes to get the scene right, but in real life we only get one shot.

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

Two days ago while feeding my daughter her lunch my wife with a little giddy-up in her step lunges for the front door with her keen sense of knowing when our mail is delivered. I have a keen sense when watching Jeopardy that right after a contestant chooses a topic and Double Jeopardy pops up I eerily knew it would. Creepy!!

So, my wife with her mail in hand drops off a package delivery to me. I can’t wait to open it but I must finish feeding my daughter first. Every part of my being desires to rip it open right now. The box looks sturdy so I may need a knife or a…and here comes my lady already prepared bringing the scissors. I’m still in the act of feeding as I watch her slice open the box with such precision like a surgeon cutting into a patient. As I stare at her hands lifting out this massive book I am sure the spoon I’m wielding is dripping food on the top of the high chair. The title on the front of the book says “1001 Books You Must  Read Before You Die.”

She comments that it’s a lot bigger than she thought it would be. The perfect opportunity to respond, “That’s what she said” but my stomach is churning with excitement (I know I sound lame) waiting in anticipation to sift through the pages novels I will one day read.

In the evening while laying on my stomach hands, elbows and pillow propping me up I skim through the novels I’ve recently read to see what literary professors had to say about them. See if I missed something. In fact there was a lot I was missing. No “Watchmen”, no “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, no “Saturday”. Well, if you’ve read my blog you would find I wasn’t too crazy about “Saturday” anyway. I was flabbergasted.

I originally chose the books from the online list of the aforementioned title. Investigating further I found out that the new book I received is a revised version (which I was aware of) and according to Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. the version I have in my possession contains 250 changes of the 1001 novel titles. What!! “The List” I was working from is a 2006 version. Let’s see I have read (drum roll) 54 novels, blogged about 27 of them. Of the 27 novels 8 have been removed from the list.

The day I am nearing the end of completing this massive task there will be many more revisions. Maybe one day the books like the Hunger Games trilogy and the Harry Potter’s will be added and my goal will be even closer.

I will now pay tribute to the novels I have blogged about that have fallen down the out-of-order elevator shaft to enter the world of “Well, it’s okay if you die before you read it” list.

1. “Saturday” by Ian McEwan (don’t worry you have a few left on the list)

2. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro (every time I see your title I will cringe at the idea of having my organs ripped out)

3.  “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon (you’ll always have Broadway)

4. “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters (I was glad that you were in audiobook form)

5. “Youth” by J.M. Coetzee (I am glad I read it before it was taken off the list)

6. “Choke” by Chuck Palaniuk (Palaniuk has no other books on the list but I know every time I ride a plane I will remember how someone could be naked in the bathroom with the door unlocked waiting for an innocent bystander to stumble upon them in hopes of contributing to the mile high club)

Question to my readers. I can’t even imagine joining the mile high club in such small confinements as the planes’ bathroom. Who has joined the club and what creative ways did they accomplish this task?

7. “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden (I still will recommend you to others)

8. “The Robber Bride” by Margaret Atwood (after reading “The Blind Assassin” also no longer on “The List” thank God, this book restored my hope in Atwood’s other books on the list.)

 

 

Introduction

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

“There’s no crying in baseball!”

“Here’s Johnny!”

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

“I see dead people.”

 

How long does it take many of you to come up with the answer to which movies each line originated? Great!! Do you remember the time when you first watched the scenes from these movies? Maybe it’s like last nights lasagna leftovers which tastes even better the second time around. Quick bonds are made once you find you have this love for a movie in common. I have had some interesting conversations with random people just because I was wearing a Harry Potter shirt. We enjoyed our experiences so much it too hard to contain the excitement. Can’t wait for someone to know when you say “My Precious” they respond “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!” from “The Lord of the Rings.”

I love to read and many times I have that same itching desire to share my thoughts and experiences with others but it’s often easier to find someone who has seen the movie “The Life of Pi” than actually read it. So I chose to blog about my experiences and send it into the world to find others to share it with. Technology baby!

Why not choose books at random instead an already preordained list? I like that the list bounces around to many genres, it covers centuries of novels from the classics of “Alice in Wonderland”, to the more obscure like “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”. Not only that but the authors span the entire globe allowing for the reader to get a taste of the written cuisine each culture provides. I am sure “The 1001 books to read before you die” left out a few novels that some people would argue deserves there. I would be willing to listen to those suggestions and blog about your favorites as well when I take a break from focusing on the aforementioned list.

For those new to bookinthroughbooks for the past year I was writing on Google’s blogger and am switching over to WordPress. Blogger was a great starting point for what I needed which was basically to write my thoughts and post a few pictures. Almost a year later I still am dedicated to my goal of reading all these great novels and sharing it with whomever and I want to upgrade what I can do to my blog. Starting to feel like MySpace but cooler. To those who followed bookinthroughbooks.blogspot.com I hope for you to follow me to WordPress and that the format will make your reading experience more enjoyable including some added features and hopefully commenting will be much easier.

If you didn’t know what movie belonged to each quote. Here’s the answers. In sequential order.

  • “The Silence of the Lambs”
  • “A League of their Own”
  • “The Shining”
  • “When Harry met Sally”
  • “Sixth Sense”

 

Reading "1001 Books to Read Before You Die"

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