Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams, by M. J. Simpson

hitchhiker-a-biography-of-douglas-adams-by-m-j-simpson coverGenre: Biography
Publisher: Justin Charles and Company
Published: 2003
Reviewer Rating: one star
Book Review by Heather Hunt

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WARNING: This book is for fanatics only.

If you want to know every detail of Douglas Adams’ life starting with his school years, his classes, his teachers, his first notices in school publications (don’t we all have these?), on and on ad nauseum, then you’ll want to read this book.

Simpson includes an exhaustive-and exhausting-account of every last college revue Adams appeared in or wrote for and all of his myriad radio and television connections. More trivia abounds about Adams’ “Dr. Who” days.

Finally Simpson gets to “Hitchhiker” almost 100 pages in.

Another grating feature of this book is Simpson’s rhapsodizing about Adam’s influence on his life and his apologizing for having to include some less-than-noble characteristics of his subject. Simpson does both numerous times. He also overemphasizes Adams’ size; 6’5″ is certainly tall but there are probably half a dozen men that size in my company of 150.

The most unprofessional aspect of the uncorrected proof I read, which I hope was corrected before publication, is the constant use of Adams’ first name, whereas everyone else is addressed (properly and professionally) by last name. This is a subtle and again annoying indication of the hero worship that Simpson holds toward his subject.

This is too bad, because Simpson obviously did his homework and undoubtedly has enough material to write a more compelling, evenhanded, and flesh-and-blood biography. But this account did not make me want to rush out and read the rest of the “Hitchhiker” books that I hadn’t gotten around to. That would have been the ultimate compliment for a biographer. Alas, I cannot give it.

The cliche is true of this review: Simpson preaches to the converted and annoys the rest of us.

I realize that there are enough fanatics out there to make “Hitchhiker” a bestseller, so for all of you, enjoy! For the rest of us, I say “pass.”

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