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EDITIONS
Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
The Salmon of Doubt
The Salmon of Doubt

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


MARK LAWSON:
A book he knew nothing about, does it help us to know him?

PHILIP HENSHER:
I'm a great fan of Douglas Adams. He's the one thing that proves the English are interested in novels of ideas.

This is not really a book that any author would be pleased to see appear under his name. It's very sad. There are interesting things in it but it's bits and piece, really me and my spoon, and the novel itself, you can see it might in the end have got to be something interesting, but actually it's more frustrating than anything else to have it here.

I would buy this book, I would buy anything Douglas Adams wrote, but it's sad not to have it more complete.

MARK LAWSON:
It's an odd project, it builds up as an ad hoc autobiography and an account of writers' block. It's a very sad book.

NATASHA WALTER:
It is sad to read and I think it's very sad, I did feel that only a real fan would appreciate this book. I was interested Phillip didn't find that much in it.

Unless you really are in love with Douglas Adams I can't see you finding that much in it. The unfinished novel, it's disappointing to have something like that in there.

All you get is bits that don't really hang together. They must have hung together in his head.

There are some sweet things that will stay with you. What I didn't like was the way it dropped into that absolutely nerdish element of Douglas Adams' work.

His things about his computer or making a cup of tea, desperately laboured jokes on technology. I found that too off putting for words.

BONNIE GREER:
All I can say is, I echo with both of them saying I hope to God nobody raids my hard drive, because I wouldn't want stuff published that I hadn't said yes to.

MARK LAWSON:
Writers are going to leave more and more behind if they use computers, but it becomes a big ethical question. You are suggesting this book should not have been published?

PHILIP HENSHER:
No, I think probably it was going to be published in the end. But I think that anyone picking it up should just read it, knowing that he did not want this to be published.

I don't think it would be fair to pass any judgement on Douglas Adams on the basis of this.

MARK LAWSON:
You can say he's still a lovely comic writer. There are things one will giggle at. Things about irrational traffic laws and funny stories about a guy he thinks is pinching his biscuits at the station. There are lovely moments.

PHILIP HENSHER:
You can say this is a good thing and it's unfair to use it in any way to denigrate.

BONNIE GREER:
Let's not forget Kafka.

MARK LAWSON:
It contains the funniest e-mail ever written. When Disney are not responding to his phone calls, he lists 50 numbers including his parents house, restaurants... I thought it was worth it for that e-mail alone.

PHILIP HENSHER:
The moral of the book is don't get messed up with Hollywood really because they destroyed him.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Panel
02 May 02 | Panel
02 May 02 | Panel
02 May 02 | Panel
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