I Wish I Could Unread It.

Did you ever read a book that was such a huge disappointment that you wish you could unread it and erase it from your memory? Go back to before you read it and never pick the stupid thing up? I'm not talking about a bad book, I'm talking about a REALLY bad book. One that is so bad that even years later you're like "ARRGH!! Why why why did I read that stupid piece of you-know-what?"

My wife and I were going through a bunch of old books the other day, when my nemesis showed that it was still somewhere in my house, waiting, lurking. That book is "Mostly Harmless".

The author, Douglas Adams, may he rest in peace, made his fortune from his tale "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Written as a radio program originally broadcast on British radio, it was later turned into a book, another book, a third book, a BBC TV series, a fourth book, a fifth book, and, recently, a movie.

The one that bugs me is the last one - the fifth book in the trilogy. (Fans of the series will understand.) I sincerely believe that Mr. Adams never intended to write 5 books, I don't think he meant to write 4. The first three are pretty good on their own. The 4th one is OK. But I think the cult status of the books and the money led (or forced) the author to take on another sequel.

But he shouldn't have. It's obvious from the writing that he really didn't want to write it. I don't know if it was the money, if he was under contract to some publisher, or if it was just the big whiney cry-baby fans who were insisting on another book. (In spite of the fact that Mr. Adams was working on other books that were very good and just as much fun to read.)

Spoiler alert. The book wanders around aimlessly for way too many pages. Mr. Adams does try to recapture some of the humor that was the magic of the first few books, but it's obvious that he's trying too hard to do something that he just doesn't want to do. After several long hours of reading about the beloved characters doing practically nothing, they all get killed at the end.

I think the author did that so he wouldn't have to write any more sequels. The story had run it's course long before he got to the fifth book and he just wanted to move on and do other things. He wanted to silence the obsessive rabid fans who were asking him over and over and over again "when are you writing another Hitchhiker's book? when are you writing another Hitchhiker's book? when are you writing another Hitchhiker's book?"

It's not the author's intent that I have problems with. I am a big fan of the series. I've read the first 4 books many times, and will probably read them again, more than once. The issue I have is that the book is honestly a big heaping, steaming, pile of crap. I don't care what the publisher promised him, I don't care what he promised the publisher, neither the author nor the publisher should have let this book go to print. I don't care how whiney and cry-baby the fans were, they should have just let the series stand where it was and not waste anyone's time with this load of tripe.

If I could go back in time and unread the book, I would. Worse, I spent money on a first edition hard cover copy, like $25 if I remember correctly. (I'd burn it if I hadn't.) Yes, it really is that bad.

What book would you unread?