If you head over to Google today you’ll see their doodle celebrating what would have been the 61st birthday of Douglas N. Adams (DNA, as he was affectionately referred to by fans), British author of the hilarious The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which is basically the Star Wars saga as performed by Monty Python. It helped define the adolescence of many a nerdish young man, myself included.
In addition to his hilarious books, Adams himself was instrumental to my decision to pursue a career path centered on trying to trick people into giving me cash in exchange for sentences. A couple of years before his premature death in 2001, I sent Adams an e-mail. (Adams was a big fan of, presence on, the early Internet, and his personal e-mail address was not especially hard to find). I attached a short satire I’d written, evocatively entitled “Fourteen-and-a-half Pages of Pure Rubbish,” that was heavily derivative of his style, and told him that even though I wasn’t the best writer in the world at age 14 or 15, I’d really appreciate if he could read it and let me know if he thought I had any potential.
Just a day or two later, Adams wrote back. He had read the story! He offered a few suggestions and closed with this, which I’ll never forget: “You may not be the best writer in the world (yet), but you have the makings of a profound social critic.”
I’m not saying his assessment was correct, but it was efficacious!