Readersforum's Blog

March 14, 2014

The 42 Best Lines from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series.

 

 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

By Jeff O’Neal.

In his best-known work, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams explained the supreme utility of the towel in intergalactic travel:

“…it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

Adams’ artistic sensibility is both specific and elusive. He can go from distraught to delighted in the space of a modifier. He combines Gary Larson’s irony, Bill Watterson’s wistful idealism, Oscar Wilde’s keen social observation, and Dorothy Parker’s mischievousness. But set in space. In short, he is a genre all to himself.

So, to remind fans of his great gifts and to introduce newcomers to his unmistakable voice, here are the 42 best lines from his Hitchhiker series, in no particular order:

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August 22, 2013

Dorothy Parker’s Poetic Sneakers

Dorothy Parker    (1893 - 1967)

Dorothy Parker
(1893 – 1967)

by Steve King

On this day in 1893 Dorothy Parker was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, to Henry and Eliza Rothschild (“My God, no, dear! We’d never even heard of those Rothschilds”). Her birth was two months premature, allowing her to say that it was the last time she was early for anything; her early writing was a “following in the exquisite footsteps of Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in my own horrible sneakers.”

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April 11, 2013

Dorothy Parker Closes

Dorothy Parker   (1893 - 1967)

Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967)

On this day in 1931, Dorothy Parker stepped down as drama critic for The New Yorker, so ending the “Reign of Terror” she endured while reviewing plays, and that others endured while being reviewed by her. Parker was a drama critic for only a half-dozen years in a 50-year career, but her Broadway days brought her first fame and occasioned some of her most memorable lines.

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January 5, 2013

A Critic’s Tour of Literary Manhattan

Clockwise from left: KGB Bar, the Strand, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Library Hotel, NoMad Hotel, Algonquin hotel, Café Loup.

Clockwise from left: KGB Bar, the Strand, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Library Hotel, NoMad Hotel, Algonquin hotel, Café Loup.

By DWIGHT GARNER

A FEW years ago, the novelist Gary Shteyngart, whose books are very funny and very sad, gave an interview to a magazine called Modern Drunkard. (Yes, this magazine actually exists.) It’s the funniest and saddest interview I’ve ever read.

In it, Mr. Shteyngart lamented what’s happened to bookish night life in New York City over the past decade. “There are so few people to drink with,” he said. “The literary community is not backing me up here. I’m all alone.” Mr. Shteyngart, who was born in Russia, added: “It’s pathetic when I think about my ancestors. Give them a bottle of shampoo and they have a party.”

Is Manhattan’s literary night life, along with its literary infrastructure (certain bars, hotels, restaurants and bookstores) fading away? Not long ago I installed myself at the Algonquin, the Midtown hotel where Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott and others once traded juniper-infused barbs, and used it as a launching pad to crisscross the island for a few days, looking to see what’s left.

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October 20, 2012

Pooh Too Hummy

A. A. Milne

On this day in 1928 Dorothy Parker, under her pen name, Constant Reader, reviewed A. A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner in The New Yorker, with predictable, now-famous, results: “. . . And it is that word ‘hummy,’ my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up.”

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July 11, 2012

The 10 Most Bizarre Pieces Of Literary Merch

  By Kimberly Turner

Books aren’t just books anymore, and authors aren’t just authors. They are—as obnoxious and bizspeak as it sounds—”brands,” and they’re being marketed as such. So if you’re sick of hearing about Fifty Shades of Grey now, wait until your aunt asks for Fifty Shades lingerie this Christmas. CopCorp, which bought the licensing rights to the series, anticipates adult toys, key fobs, men’s ties, jewelry, fragrances, and “appropriate services.” (I shudder to think what that means.) After all, it’s not such a stretch to assume that if you enjoy the book or author, you’ll buy the T-shirt, coffee mug, or bookmark. But what about the panties, shower curtain, and Ouija board? Literary merchandise is not as straightforward as you might think. Here are ten of the most bizarre book tie-ins…

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October 23, 2011

To Fan Fearing Wrecking Ball, the City Is Dorothy Parker’s

Associated Press

By JOSEPH BERGER

As Dorothy Parker once said, New Yorkers like her “take New York personally.”

What she meant, as she explained in a 1928 magazine essay, “My Home Town,” was that she felt tenderly “maternal” about the “nervous and fevered and dashing place” where she had lived most of her life and that anyone insulting the city would risk her vinegar wit.

So, in that spirit, Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, a 45-year-old aficionado of everything Dorothy Parker, has taken personally an effort by a landlord to tear down a piece of it — one of Parker’s several childhood homes on the Upper West Side.

To say that Mr. Fitzpatrick is passionate about Parker could be an understatement.

He runs the 3,000-member Dorothy Parker Society, manages its Web site, has written a book about Parker’s New York and conducts monthly walking tours of places associated with Parker, like the Algonquin Hotel, where she was one of the lights of its bon-mot-generating Round Table.

Now Mr. Fitzpatrick is championing the preservation of the 1890s limestone row house at 214 West 72nd Street, where Parker lived until she was about 5. He wants the local community board to recommend to the Landmarks Preservation Commission that the building be included in a proposed West End Avenue historic district.

“I believe any residence where an author lived is important, even if they weren’t writing there, because it shaped that person,” said Mr. Fitzpatrick, who works as a project manager on mobile applications for The Associated Press.

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October 20, 2011

Pooh Too Hummy

A. A. Milne

On this day in 1928 Dorothy Parker, under her pen name, Constant Reader, reviewed A. A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner in The New Yorker, with predictable, now-famous, results: “. . . And it is that word ‘hummy,’ my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up.”

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August 12, 2011

Who made comedian Andy Borowitz’s list of ’50 Funniest’ writers?

Andy Borowitz

By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY

Let the arguments begin, says Andy Borowitz, in his first interview about his book, The 50 Funniest American Writers: An Anthology of Humor From Mark Twain to The Onion, (Library of America, $27.95, Oct. 13).

Who made it? Garrison Keillor, Larry Wilmore and Anita Loos. (full list below).

Who didn’t? Tina Fey, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart.

“Anytime you do a best-of list, people get mad, except for the people on the list,” says Borowitz, of the satirical website, BorowitzReport.com “Lists are lightening rods. That’s the fun of it. And the most personal thing of all is deciding what’s funny.”

The list includes the usual suspects: O. Henry, H.L. Mencken, Dorothy Parker and Woody Allen, as well as more modern humorists including David Sedaris, Dave Barry and Sloane Crosley.

But what about the omissions?

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June 15, 2011

Alcohol and other literary pursuits

Kingsley Amis, author of "Everyday Drinking"

Flavorwire tells us how to “Drink Like Our Favorite Authors.” The drinks sound delicious (Dorothy Parker liked a Whiskey Sour, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda were fond of Gin Rickeys) but the writers also offer warning about the booze. Wrote Parker:

I wish I could drink like a lady
I can take one or two at the most
Three and I’m under the table
Four and I’m under the host.

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