Tag Archives: Douglas Adams

Sacre Vache

Isn’t that a sickening front cover?

Everything’s wrong with it.

Orange on grey?  Oh, I really don’t think so.  It’s a terrible title: dodgy author’s name, too.  It has tag lines – what’s it trying to be, a film?  And the cow-and-garden-gnome combination looks like something that should be on the cover of a distressingly specialized periodical.

I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to hating this book from the very first page.  I was salivating.  The knives were sharpened.  I was rehearsing ways of getting the Fawlty Towers line ‘insert a large garden gnome in you’ into this review somewhere.

But Going Bovine cheated me.  I couldn’t begin to dislike it even slightly until I was one hundred odd pages from the end.  Up to that point, I was having a ball.

Our narrator, Cameron, is a marvellously clichéd, moderately disaffected American teen.  He can’t really relate to others, can’t get laid, his sister’s better at school and socialising than he is and his parents suck.  He spends most of his time buying vinyl from (and avoiding meaningful conversations with) jazz freak Eubie.  Otherwise, he can be found flipping burgers, or you can track him down by tracing the source of the reefer smoke.  He can also occasionally be located in the company of gamers who like discussing the wilder conceptual problems thrown up by physics (Schrödinger’s cat, etc.). Continue reading


Adams’ Apples

Who wrote this?

“We notice things that don’t work.  We don’t notice things that do.  We notice computers, we don’t notice pennies.  We notice e-book readers, we don’t notice books.”

It could almost be George Orwell.  It’s just about tight and sharp enough and it’s got something of the Orwell sense of balance and lissomness… but Orwell didn’t live to encounter computers, let alone e-book readers, and I can’t quite see him scribbling down ‘pennies’.

It was Douglas Adams.

Or this:

“In the old Soviet Union they used to say that anything that wasn’t forbidden was compulsory; the trick was to remember which was which.”

Now that could have been Clive James.  It’s politically astute, aphoristic and it all turns on the final clause: a neat colloquial noun and the fine consonant resonance of the final three words.  It contains at least two little turns that James learned from Orwell (and improved upon) – and I think James would be the first to admit it.

But it was Douglas Adams. Continue reading