I know we’re all supposed to be reading Quicksilver right now, and I certainly look forward to it, but with the term just starting the last thing I need right now is a twenty-hour reading binge, which is what Cryptonomicon triggered in me.
So I’m re-reading Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency instead. Like its companion volume The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, it’s really quite superb: both funny and moving, not really at all reminiscent of the Hitchhiker books, which repay, I think, at most one reading.
If you found the Hitchhiker series too juvenile, and are curious what an Umberto Eco story would sound like as told by Mark Twain with an Oxbridge inflection, I urge you to try the Dirk Gently books. You’ll need to keep your wits about you; an anthology with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan would also be useful.
Author: Mark Kleiman
Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out.
Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken)
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist
Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993)
Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989)
View all posts by Mark Kleiman