Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Now there's a hoopy frood who knows where his towel is!

In the spirit of bookmonkey, I thought I'd blog about a favorite literary character. The first to come to mind (who was NOT first and foremost a television or comic book character) was Douglas Adams' alien hitchhiker from his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series: Ford Prefect.
As Bookmonkey suggested, describing such a character takes three steps: gush about him/her, state why you relate to them, and then say what you admire about them and would like to emulate. That seems very apt indeed, so here goes.
Ford (who went by Ix in school and cannot pronounce his own real name) is an unreliable writer and researcher who got stuck on Earth for 15 years and made, apparently, one friend. Despite his drunken ineptitude, surly disposition, and general uselessness, Ford is the closest thing to an expert on all space-travel and hitchhiking-related activities available to our main character, Arthur Dent (who, admittedly, I am also very fond of). Ford tends to have all the best gag lines, comes up with all the plans (some of which are good), and has all the contacts (even if he can't get along with any of them). In the later books while traveling alone, Ford even manages to do some pretty heroic things, although as he himself would put it:

"My doctor says that I have a malformed public duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre and that I'm therefore excused from saving universes."

He was played to the hilt on the radio by Geoffrey McGivern, played splendidly in the TV version by David Dixon (pictured), and played in the movie by Mos Def.

I love Ford Prefect. I love his acerbic wit, his turn of phrase, and his ability to deflate every moment of awe and wonder with a practical assertion. His inability to fit in on Earth is only one facet of his inability to fit in ANYWHERE. As an awkward teen and as the awkward man-child I have become I can relate to him completely. He's an oddball, he's a kook, he's the comic middle ground between Arthur Dent's staid demeanor and the non-functional weirdness that is Zaphod Beeblebrox. Ford can be a spotlight hog, prone to fits of panic, but he generally keeps his head about him in the strangest of situations.

It turns out that Ford is actually a pretty good writer and he's definitely capable of being a true and loyal friend. He's rather more of a loner than I would prefer to be, but I envy his passion for travel and his zest for life in its myriad bizarre forms.

You know, I'm really looking forward to seeing Ford and all the gang again in the recently released Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Book 6 of 3 "And Another Thing..." by Eoin Colfer. I've never read one of his books before, I just really miss Douglas Adams' skewed cosmos and I want very badly to visit it again, in whatever form.

1 comment:

Bookmonkey said...

Cool post Mr. Guy,

Any character who mistakenly names himself after a car is alright by me!