Now I finally have time for another Book Review. It has been quite a while. With the vacations, New Year’s Eve and the first weeks of uni after winter break in between, it was quite hard to find time for blogging. Just today I have held a presentation about this book in my Oral Communication course. It all went very good. Fantastic, to be honest. We almost only got positive feedback. The content was right, the structure was clear, usage of media and videos was good, we were fluent, and the group works, as well as the whole atmosphere was very relaxed. I was positively surprised. I rather got the feeling that the class was bored, and didn’t quite know what to say. But it seems, it was because of our relaxed and calm nature :) I am so content right now, and really think that 2014 starts quite well already. I hope it will stay like this a bit longer, at least until the end of February.
So now back to the book. It was as a choice in our schedule, because the overall topic of the course is Fake-Encyclopedia (e.g.: “Fantastic Beasts and where to find them”) and Mockumentaries (e.g.: “Modern Family”, “Brüno”, “The Office”). So firstly, it has to be cleared what type of book this is. We found out that Hodgman himself described it as a fake trivia, or an almanac of fake trivia, becausemit includes an incoherent amount of partly true information. Why partly true? Because Hodgman uses true facts, but rewrites them by adding false informarion in the form of irony, metaphor, or exaggeration. When I began reading this book, I was quite confused, because he says at the beginning of the book, in the introduction, that we shouldn’t believe anything that is written in this book. But you can’t hold yourself back but research some historical information (which come as a successive date on every page, starting from the date of publication) and realizing that something like that really happened that year, but not exactly in that way it is written there. For example the date of the foundation of Kentucky Fried Chicken is absolutely true, as well as the secret recipe is from Colonel Sanders. But the quote which Hodgman claims to be the slogan for the restaurant is fake. So there is always something which seems familiar to the reader, and if looked up, it even turns out to be partly true. At first I really didn’t like reading it, because it seemed so absurd, and there was nothing relevant for every day life. But the more I read, the more I realized, how much humour, knowledge, research, information, and even fiction is in there. He invented 700 Mole-Men names! SEVEN FUCKING HUNDRED!!! I think this is some kind of fiction. Fiction is mimesis, it imitates the real world and is based on fact. Hodgman’s book is also based on fact. It is like a pseudo-reality, because it has the appearance of an encyclopedia, or almanac. The more I think about it, the more unclear it is for me what exactly it is. But one is sure: it is definitely a fake of something. And according to Hodgman, it is an almanac of fake trivia, so a mixture of fake almanac, and fake trivia.
All in all, this book might be interesting for people with a twisted humour, and for readers who want to try out something different. Oh and btw: If you can’t get enough of Hodgman’s humour, there is a 1st (“The Areas of my Expertise”) and 3rd part (“That is all”). It actally is a trilogy. And I also have to add that he is a minor tv star (just like he likes to introduce himself). If you live in America, you have probably heard of him already. He also has an own column on the Daily Telegraph, and had little roles in movies or tv series (Battlestar Galactica), and also starred in a Mac ad with Justin Long. You can watch them on Youtube. There are several :)
Final review -7/10: It might not be for everyone, and it is not really a page-turner. But it is humorous and very clever written. If you want a good laugh mixed with a challenge, go ahead and read it :)