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Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

After surviving the hideous year that was 2017, I turned to this book because I just wanted to laugh. And laugh I did over the many dry, self-deprecating humorous musings as Hodgman confronts grown-up issues like the discovery that the giant white metal Tylenol sculpture in his vacation home yard is actually a propane tank which doesn’t fill itself; you must call the “gas daddy” for that. I should have known from his work on the Daily Show that the book would be more than just funny. It turns out that what I needed and really wanted was a book that would also inspire reflection on human nature and the sad state of our country, and this book delivered. There are many moments of guilt-ridden self-discovery. Is his whole life being spent in vacationland? After all, what is he but a privileged white male who is fortunate to have enough money to at least buy “the conditions for happiness”? With his penchant for droll self-reflective humor and insight and for spot-on social observations, Hodgman has grown even further in my estimation with this book.

— From Jeanne's Picks


"I love everything about this hilarious book except the font size." --Jon Stewart

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.

About the Author

John Hodgman is a writer, comedian, and actor. He is the author of three New York Times bestselling books--The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That Is All. After an appearance to promote his books on The Daily Show, he was invited to return as a contributor, serving as the show's "Resident Expert" and "Deranged Millionaire." This led to an unexpected and, frankly, implausible career in front of the camera. He has performed comedy for the president of the United States, at a TED conference, and in a crypt in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. He is the host of the popular Judge John Hodgman podcast, in which he settles serious disputes between real people, such as "Is a hot dog a sandwich?" He also contributes a weekly column under the same name for The New York Times Magazine.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780735224803
ISBN-10: 0735224803
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: October 24th, 2017
Pages: 272
Language: English