Vacationland by John Hodgman
Trade paperback format.
Highly recommended!!! If you are like me and are anticipating a distinct lack of Maine wanderings in your life this year, some of that sadness can be assuaged and transmuted by this book's droll and honest humor.
“‘West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight,’ H.P. Lovecraft wrote. He was talking about western Massachusetts. And we all know about Maine, thanks to Stephen King. Rabid dogs, vampires, space aliens, sh*t weasels, and worse things, all hanging around that Castle Rock place. These are terrifying places, awful places, where strange screams echo though the night and the people eat giant aquatic insects they call lobsters. You don’t want to go near them.
Fortunately John Hodgman has gone there so you don’t have to, and he has seen it all. Beaches with rocks sharp as knives, sinister cairns, waters cold enough to stop your heart, raccoon feces . . . oh, the tales he tells! It’s all there in Vacationland! Lovecraft warned us, King warned us, and now comes Hodgman with the terrible truth. Oh, the horror, the horror . . . ”
—George R. R. Martin
Although his career as a bestselling author and on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart was founded on fake news and invented facts, in 2016 that routine didn’t seem as funny to John Hodgman anymore. Everyone is doing it now.
Disarmed of falsehood, he was left only with the awful truth: John Hodgman is an older white male monster with bad facial hair, wandering like a privileged Sasquatch through three wildernesses: the hills of Western Massachusetts where he spent much of his youth; the painful beaches of Maine that want to kill him (and some day will); and the metaphoric haunted forest of middle age that connects them.
Vacationland collects these real life wanderings, and through them you learn of the horror of freshwater clams, the evolutionary purpose of the mustache, and which animals to keep as pets and which to kill with traps and poison. There is also some advice on how to react when the people of coastal Maine try to sacrifice you to their strange god.
Though wildly, Hodgmaniacally funny as usual, it is also a poignant and sincere account of one human facing his forties, those years when men in particular must stop pretending to be the children of bright potential they were and settle into the failing bodies of the wiser, weird dads that they are.
“I love everything about this hilarious book except the font size.” —Jon Stewart