Friday, August 04, 2006

Book-A-Day #18 (8/4): The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman

This is a very funny, very witty book, but reading it straight through probably wasn't a good idea (especially in my current, lackadaisical post-WFA state). The Areas of My Expertise is made up of dozens of sections of various lengths, all detailing unlikely information about all manner of topics, and all completely made up by Mr. Hodgman.

(Hodgman, if anyone is trying to place him, is the actor who plays "Windows" on the current series of Mac TV commercials. He was also the "Deranged Millionaire" on They Might Be Giants' last record, Venue Songs -- the supposed set-up was that the D.M. had challenged them to make up a new song for every place they played on that tour, or lose their magical song-writing talisman. That story is similar in tone and style to the pieces in this book; Hodgman is magificently deadpan, with a fine sense of what's just weird enough.)

This book is full of wonderful stuff, and is alternately laugh-out-loud funny and just plain odd. Hodgman throws off asides that sound like unwritten Paul Di Filippo or Howard Waldrop stories, about the hobo wars of the '30s or the secret history of lobsters in Central Park. The Areas of My Expertise also features the exceptionally valuable Lycanthropic Transformation Tables, correlating type of lycanthrope with the phase of the moon. It is strange and wonderful, and its particular kind of strangeness would be particularly interesting to SF readers.

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