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:
-What are the mottoes of the 51 United States?
THE ANSWER IS PROVIDED
-Who were the U.S. presidents who had hooks for hands?
THE ANSWER IS PROVIDED
-What role does the Yale secret society “Skull and Bones” play in the secret world government?
THERE IS NO SECRET WORLD GOVERNMENT
-What was the menu at the first Thanksgiving, and did it include eels?
Technically, that is two questions, but do not apologize, for John Hodgman shall answer them both . . . LATER.
-Aside from a compendium of fake trivia, what is the best kind of book to write?
A SIMPLE TABLE OF THE 55 MOST DRAMATIC LITERARY SITUATIONS PROVIDES THE ANSWER, and John Hodgman is the author of that table.
Imagine if The Book of Lists had been rewritten by Peter Cook and Jorge Luis Borges under the pseudonym of “John Hodgman” and then renamed The Areas of My Expertise, and you will only begin to have a sense of the dizzying, uproarious, sublimely weird, and strangely wise journey that is contained within this book (along with all the pages and words).
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.
Look out for John Hodgman's latest book, Vacationland, available from Viking in Fall 2017.
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.