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The Areas of My Expertiseby John. Hodgman
Synopses & Reviews
In the great tradition of the American almanac, The Areas of My Expertise is a brilliant and hilarious compendium of handy reference tables, fascinating trivia, and sage wisdom on all topics large and small. Although bestsellers such as Poor Richard's Almanack and The Book of Lists were certainly valuable, they also were largely true. Here is a different kind of handy desk reference, one in which all of the historical oddities and amazing true facts are sifted through the singular, illuminating imagination of John Hodgman — which is the nice way of saying: He made it all up. John Hodgman brings his considerable expertise to bear in answering all of the questions book buyers have been asking:
Perfect for anyone who thirsts for knowledge, and especially for collectors of books of fake trivia, The Areas of My Expertise offers through absurdity a better understanding of the world we share — and recognizes that while the truth may be stranger than fiction, it is never as strange as lies... or as true.
"In this super-literate, ultimately exhausting exercise in literary parody, New York Times magazine contributor Hodgman has produced 'a compendium of COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE.' From sections titled 'What Will Happen in the Future' to 'What You Did Not Know About Hobos,' he piles up smart-alecky nonsense in layer upon layer of surreal, wholly fictional factoids. Whether highlighting American presidents who had hooks for hands, or sketching out the mythical secrets of Yale University, Hodgman creates a strange and intermittently hilarious parallel universe where lists of history's worst haircuts (in addition to the Mullet, there are the Scrape, the Scab and the Shag-Swoop) are printed alongside descriptions of 'famous novels that were not originally published as books.' Sprinkled throughout with breathless 'factual' interjections — 'Were you aware of it? The body of Thomas Edison was never buried. Instead it was displayed for many decades in a traveling carnival.... DOES IT EVEN SEEM POSSIBLE?' — this 'almanac' demonstrates Hodgman's formidable imagination, if not his ability to amuse consistently. The individual passages are funny but get lost in an already overstuffed work. For the hyper-well-read fans of publications like McSweeney's, this is a treasure trove of twisted absurdist miscellany. For others, however, it may just be too much of a good thing. Agent, Kassie Evashevski. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Hodgman, 'resident expert' on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a New York Times Magazine contributor, prides himself as a leading authority in the realm of informative false world knowledge. In adapting his collection of fake trivia to audio, Hodgman couples sketch comedy showmanship and cerebral literary parody. Musician Jonathan Coulton enlivens Hodgman's more lengthy — sometimes plodding — narrative passages. Coulton's musical interludes during Hodgman's profiles of 'Our 51 States' prove especially entertaining. Paul Rudd provides an 'uncredited cameo' as the guest reader for 'Jokes That Have Never Produced Laughter.' The audio edition also includes a special bonus '700 Hobo Names' CD, an addendum to Hodgman's 'Things You Did Not Know About Hoboes' chapter. Hodgman's distinct brand of offbeat humor somehow manages to spoof — yet ultimately embrace — an intellectual thirst for the esoteric. Admittedly, Hodgman can sometimes become mired in the long-winded details of his obscure falsehoods. Yet, connoisseurs of the Schott's Miscellany titles and the Onion will still find more than enough deliciously absurd faux facts to make for a worthwhile listening experience. Simultaneous release with the Riverhead paperback (Reviews, July 25, 2005). (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"One of the funniest and most entertaining books to play on readers' imaginations in recent memory. Highly recommended." Library Journal
Borges meets the bathroom book in John Hodgman's bestselling almanac of complete (and fabricated) world knowledge.
Abridged CDs - 4 CDs, 5 hours
About the Author
John Hodgman lives in New York City, where he curates and hosts "The Little Gray Book Lectures," a monthly colloquium of readings, songs, and dubious scholarship. He is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and a frequent voice on public radio's This American Life. Further fiction, nonfiction, and genres in between have appeared in the Paris Review, McSweeney?s, One-Story, and the Believer. He has performed at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, as well as on the great stages of Chicago, Philadelphia, and London?s Barbican.
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