Sunday, 16 May 2010

Richard Adams

One week ago today, Richard Adams turned 90! I've been checking it out with the relevant authorities, and it turns out that 90 is Actually Quite Old. Who knew?

Rather than send him a birthday present, I thought I would take the opportunity to let you all know that he is AWESOME and you should all BUY HIS BOOKS.

Okay, so you've read Watership Down. If you read it as a kid, do yourself a favour and read it again now. It's not perfect -- Michael Palin called it 'politically naive', and you don't question Palin -- but it did teach me the word 'myriad' by page one, when I was twelve. I won't go on about this book any more, other than to say it is a great example of the love of narrative.

I've only read five books by Adams, and they all offer something different. The main point I should make is that Watership Down is his idea of a kid's book. That thick, dark, epic novel... that is him keeping it real with the kids. My favourite of his, The Girl in a Swing, shows you how dark and soul-gripping he can be when he writes for adults.

The fact I've only read five of his books is a travesty, considering how long I've loved his stuff, but it's not all my fault. Those five are, except for one instance I intensely regret, the only of his books I have ever come across in any sort of bookshop.
I hear there's this thing called the internet, which could somehow help me bypass this lack of bookshop-love, but that's not the point. The point is that a great writer is being forgotten about. He is slowly slipping out of our national memory (and the stock in old bookshops is not a bad way to measure our national memory, I think.)

I don't know what to do about that, other than mourn it, shout about it, and look sad. That's what I'm doing now. Picture it.

I thought about entering him into the (deeply influential) LTR Hall of Fame, but Michael says we don't have one. He says they are elitist. When I told him that they were meant to be elitist, he stormed out and went upstairs to eat a KitKat.


  1. He needs an entry to a hall of fame. Give Michael a badge to say he is in charge of looking after the hall of famers.

  2. OK, so you're right, I've read Watership Down (as an adult only! In fact I was so horrified that my local library didn't have a copy of it that I bought two, one for me and one for them) but I really never thought about (maybe even never heard of) other books by Richard Adams. I can't see the title of the book on the left! I can see Shardik, The Plague Dogs, and I assume on the right is The Girl in a Swing. I'm adding that last one to my TBR since it's your favorite, and at some point I may come back to the others . . .

  3. Awesome!

    The fifth one I have isn't in the picture, cos it's too big for that particular shelf. It's an old hardback version of 'Tales From Watership Down', which is exactly what it sounds. He just had far too many stoires to fit into one novel, it seems.

    Matt -- I offered Michael a badge, but he said they are elitist too. Then later on, I offered him a cup of tea, and he said that cups of tea were elitist, and he wouldn't be having any of that, thank you very much.
    I think it's his new favourite word. I'm not sure he knows what it means.

  4. I love Adams, too, and I've read and reread it over the years. A great book. I have hardcovers of most of his books, though... if I can find them. Yes, I have so many books that I can actually lose whole sets. It's been absolute ages since I've read The Plague Dogs or Shardik, though.

    It's funny, I've been thinking about rereading Watership Down again lately. It's just sort of been floating in my head. Maybe, maybe...

  5. Just read The Girl in a Swing and thought it was pretty great. So which Adams is your 2nd favorite? (Not including Watership Down, which I've already read.)

  6. Ah, you read it! That's excellent. As for what next, my Adams-reading is stioll pretty limited. From what I've read, I'd say:

    Go with The Plague Dogs. It has that great Adams touch of darkness. It's less political than Watership Down, less menacing than Girl in a Swing -- it's an adevnture story, at heart.