BOOK
Wish You Were Here
The Official Biography of Douglas Adams

Author: Nick Webb
Headline
RRP 18.99
ISBN 0 7553 1155 8
Available now


The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy launched Douglas Adams as a superstar when it appeared in 1978, becoming phenomenally successful as a novel, and a radio and TV series. He achieved success early - over 17 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide. Nick Webb's friendship with Adams began when he commissioned the first novel for Pan and they remained friends thereafter. This portrait of a larger-than-life character has been drawn up with the help of family and friends many of whom are going on record for the first time. The result is a privileged vantage point from which to share a revealing and affectionate view of an astonishing man who is still mourned by his millions of fans around the world...

Published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Wish You Were Here is the official biography of Douglas Adams - although being published over two years after his death I'm not entirely sure what the title "official" actually means - presumably it has been authorised by his estate.

The problem with "official" biographies is that they are generally lacking all the sordid bits of detail that most people want to read. Instead they are usually full of puff to show the subject in as good a light possible. And when they do talk about "that court case" or "substance abuse" they also seem to show the subject as the victim of circumstance, rather than the weak willed fool they obviously really were.

So, it was not surprising to discover that this book really didn't delve deep enough into the psyche of the man that millions of people around the world know as "that bloke wot wrote Hitchhikers". Instead it seems to be filled with stories about how the movie was never made and how the attempts at making the movie left Adams disillusioned with Hollywood - how often have we heard that from writers who have been tempted by the bright lights of Hollywood. Here's some free advice for any future Douglas Adams, Rob Grant or Doug Naylor types... If you are that passionate about your work then don't sell out to the States for a truck full of money and then complain when they try to Americanise your product.

To give Author Nick Webb credit, he has thoroughly researched his subject, it's just that what could have been an insightful look at one of this county's most famous exports ends up being just an interesting book full of anecdotes.

While not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination there are better titles on the same subject out there. One of which is also published this month - Don't Panic by Titan Publishing.

Nick Smithson

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