|The Areas of My Expertise|
John Hodgman's, The Areas of My Expertise, comes recommended by such literary hipsters as Dave Eggers, Sarah Vowell, and, uh, the High Priest of the Church of Satan (at least according to the dust jacket). Despite its deserved and lofty praise, it is important to note that nothing in this book can be taken as truth. As a matter of fact, the whole book is one lie after another, one giant, hilarious lie.
Written as an almanac of sorts, Hodgman illuminates some of the more obscure facts about America, Presidents who have had hooks for hands, and, most importantly, hobo matters. If you have come looking for a list of 700 fictional hobo names, than you have come to the right place.
John Hodgman has been popping up a lot lately around media-land. He has appeared on the Daily Show as a guest and contributor. He also happens to play the role of a Windows PC in the recent Apple ads that tout the young hip aesthetic of Macs while poking fun at the stodgy nerds who still hang with Windows machines. He reminds one of Bob Newhart, a little, but with jokes about Morlocks. The Areas of My Expertise is a great little find. It is ridiculous, but clever. Dry, but not biting. If you don't think a diagram depicting Dungeons & Dragons greatest match-ups is funny, than maybe you will enjoy learning about how to run political attack ads on normal people, or how to pull off a confidence game that involves a guild of ninjas. This book really has something for everyone. Sure, you may have to take the walk of shame and go to the humor section of a bookstore, and you may have to search through the seemingly endless volumes of Dave Barry, Garrison Keillor or Jimmy Buffet (he wrote a book?), but do not be dismayed. The recent surge of clever writers, like David Sedaris, knows to keep it brief and succinct. Hodgman follows in this style by producing a book that steers clear of any observational pabulum that litters bookshelves and comedy clubs. It is a book that can be read in brief portions over a coffee break or while waiting to see the judge.
One of the many perks of this silly little book is that it just as enjoyable as a reference tool as it is a straight read. Place it next to your dictionary/thesaurus/Bartlett's combo that your single bookish uncle got you before you went off to college, chances are it will get more use.
- Travis Hutzell | 2006-06-21