Vacationland
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.

Vacationland Details

TitleVacationland
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 24th, 2017
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780735224803
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Humor, Autobiography, Memoir, Writing, Essays, Audiobook

Vacationland Review

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a bit uneven. John Hodgman reminds me of your single uncle (probably your dad's youngest brother) that you can't escape at Thanksgiving, who thinks of himself as a bit more interesting in his youth than he really was, but who has enough money to spend to have stuff to talk about. So the stories vary.The pot stories are pointless. The whole point seems to be, see, I also smoked the pot. Alongside a story near the end about getting drunk after a college appearance. Okay.....I started This book is a bit uneven. John Hodgman reminds me of your single uncle (probably your dad's youngest brother) that you can't escape at Thanksgiving, who thinks of himself as a bit more interesting in his youth than he really was, but who has enough money to spend to have stuff to talk about. So the stories vary.The pot stories are pointless. The whole point seems to be, see, I also smoked the pot. Alongside a story near the end about getting drunk after a college appearance. Okay.....I started out liking one story about Maine but it ended up being a white privilege narrative about only being able to afford one summer cottage. I don't know, I left with a bad taste in my mouth. I think this is partially his brand of humor, the kind where you get why it's funny kind of but you wouldn't actually laugh at it. Or perhaps this isn't the humor for me. Thanks to the publisher for providing access to this title through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    John Hodgman gave me an ARC of his new book the other day at the library, and I pretty much immediately devoured it. I found it both genuinely funny and funnily genuine, and like the humor of his podcast that I very much enjoy, I thought its great honesty gave it real punch. Hodgman's observations about my home state, Maine, are insightful and relatable, and his owning up to his own privileged existence throughout the volume mirrors his admission of his experience as someone "from away," and mak John Hodgman gave me an ARC of his new book the other day at the library, and I pretty much immediately devoured it. I found it both genuinely funny and funnily genuine, and like the humor of his podcast that I very much enjoy, I thought its great honesty gave it real punch. Hodgman's observations about my home state, Maine, are insightful and relatable, and his owning up to his own privileged existence throughout the volume mirrors his admission of his experience as someone "from away," and makes it precisely what it ought to be - truthful, humble, and a sincere and effective combination of hilarious and dispiriting. I really enjoy when people admit that being kind is a choice, and can be extremely difficult, and when they reveal their own private dreams, sorrows, and crazy unreasonable expectations for themselves and others. That's John Hodgman's real talent - showing his full humanity, and thereby breaking into yours.
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  • Allen Adams
    January 1, 1970
    http://www.themaineedge.com/buzz/a-ta...Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.Not in the case of John Hodgman, though. His latest book – “Vacationland: True Stories of Painful Beaches” – is a massive departure from his previous three books, a bestselling trio constructed entirely out of fake facts and imaginary trivia.See, the stories in this book are true … and hilarious.“Vacationland” is divided more or less evenly between Hodgman’s earlier days spent in western Massachusetts and his more http://www.themaineedge.com/buzz/a-ta...Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.Not in the case of John Hodgman, though. His latest book – “Vacationland: True Stories of Painful Beaches” – is a massive departure from his previous three books, a bestselling trio constructed entirely out of fake facts and imaginary trivia.See, the stories in this book are true … and hilarious.“Vacationland” is divided more or less evenly between Hodgman’s earlier days spent in western Massachusetts and his more recent experiences with his family on the coast of Maine. But regardless of which summer house he’s remembering at any given moment, his unique comedic voice rings out with a clever clarity that is very much unlike anything else you’re likely to read.These stories – over a dozen in all – serve as a sort of primer on all things Hodgman. Taken together, one could argue that they illustrate not only who he is, but how he came to be that person. It’s a memoir of sorts, but a selective one; the end result is a portrait of a man who has never been entirely sure what it means to be an adult, but is muddling through nonetheless.The book’s first half explores Hodgman’s relationship with his family’s home in western Massachusetts. These stories feature plenty of glimpses at the deliberately esoteric weirdo teen desperate to grow up that Hodgman was, but also digs into his young adulthood as his life’s path began its unexpected shift.Whether it’s the self-inflicted existential crisis of “Dump Jail” – where he constructs elaborate tales to tell the guys at the dump if they ever ask - or the substance-enhanced idyll of cairn building in “Rocks on Top of Other Rocks,” Hodgman captures a sense of the very real absurdity that often accompanies being an adult. Maybe he explores the notion of his first “real” job and his first REAL job (“Mongering”); maybe he confronts the need to remain hip as he ages (“Daddy Pitchfork”).Or maybe he’s relating the story where he meets Black Francis, lead singer of The Pixies and one of his personal musical idols, at the county fair and invites him and his family back to his house and shares cans of Diet Moxie with him – all while also contextualizing adulthood by way of broken septic systems and poop-filled silverware drawers (“Nerve Food”).As for the second half, that’s when we learn more about the time Hodgman and his family have spent summering on the coast of Maine. This Hodgman has already achieved a fair degree of success, though he still has some questions with regards to this whole adulthood business.For instance, there’s the story of how he and his wife accidentally bought a boat (“You Are Normal People”). “A Little Beyond the Safe Limits of Travel” is in many ways a follow-up to that story; it also captures the inherent spirit of Mainers beautifully. In “A Kingdom Property,” the stark differences between people and their attitudes are rendered with a clarity that is both funny and a little sad.Hodgman also takes some shots at Maine humor in the piece titled … “Maine Humor”; the famed Perry’s Nut House makes an extended appearance as he breaks down the notion of Maine humor and denigrates the value of fudge.And on and on and on. Every one of the stories in “Vacationland” charms with its honesty; even when relating true tale, Hodgman’s wit is unsurpassed. Anyone who has lived in these places will be struck by moments of recognition.But it’s more than that. We’ve all questioned our choices as we stagger through adulthood; everyone has stretches where they feel as if they have no idea what they’re doing. Growing up – and growing older – is scary. Hodgman captures that feeling with exquisite precision. There’s weirdness at every turn, no matter where we are or who we’re with. John Hodgman understands that.Look, these stories are funny. They’re REALLY funny. Frankly, you probably don’t need me to tell you that. What you might not expect, however, is what kind of heft they have. Even in the funniest moments, there are real feelings and real ideas being expressed. Hodgman finds ways to elicit a sense of pathos without ever losing that light of laughter. He shares hard truths as willingly as the easy ones. And he never once seems to forget just how lucky he is. It’s remarkable to read, an open window into a complex comedic psyche.This book might not be everything that is John Hodgman, but everything it is is definitely real.“Vacationland” is smart and snarky and occasionally raw. Hodgman’s narrative gifts are undeniable, and when combined with this kind of genuine feeling and truth, the end result is flat-out exceptional. It’s a beautiful balance of humor and heart – a book that’ll make you laugh, that’ll make you think … and that’ll ultimately make you glad you spent some time with John Hodgman.
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  • Matthew Quann
    January 1, 1970
    I found it nearly impossible not to compare John Hodgman's essays with those of David Sedaris. Hodgman seems inspired, in part, by Sedaris' wry observations and dry humour, even if he is never able to reach the heights of Sedaris. The two authors are quite dissimilar in personality and writing, but the style of the book itself is what Hodgman seems to have used as a framework to build his own collection of essays.Unfortunately, the stories collected in Vacationland are supremely off-balance. Lis I found it nearly impossible not to compare John Hodgman's essays with those of David Sedaris. Hodgman seems inspired, in part, by Sedaris' wry observations and dry humour, even if he is never able to reach the heights of Sedaris. The two authors are quite dissimilar in personality and writing, but the style of the book itself is what Hodgman seems to have used as a framework to build his own collection of essays.Unfortunately, the stories collected in Vacationland are supremely off-balance. Listening to Hodgman's narration made me feel for the poor dude: he sounds anxious as hell! This sometimes plays to his favour, namely when relating an anecdote in which he misread a social situation, but also became an irritant the more it wore on. Hodgman all too often spends time explaining his social views and espousing his wokeness to the detriment of the stories. It would have been much more effective if Hodgman had shown restraint in explaining his white privilege instead of spoon feeding the audience his realizations.Also, some stories seem to go off on tangents from which they never recover. Hodgman will be telling some interesting story only for it to go off the rails with something that is mildly related. It takes a lot of steam out of the good storytelling and infuses it with superfluous narrative. The book is also structured with beginning, middle, and end headings, but they only follow a loose trajectory of Hodgman's life.All the same, this is an easy, enjoyable listen for the most part. Hodgman may stumble and fall on occasion, but this is by no means a bad book. Comparing him to Sedaris is exceedingly unfair: though this is not Hodgman's first book, it is his first bit of long-form nonfiction. He also sounds like a great guy! Hodgman seems like the guy you'd want to share a beer with while you grill some steaks, and he'd regale you with stories about his adoration for his family. I'll be interested to see if he hones his craft in a future collection.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    Plainly put, John Hodgman's Vacationland is great. It positively exudes Hodgman-yness. Yes, I had to check the cover repeatedly to make sure it hadn't grown an alarming goatee/mustache combination! Straight Talk: If you are a John Hodgman fan you will like this book; If you aren't, you wont. I am and I did and I regret nothing!FULL DISCLOSURE: I received an ARC of this book from Viking/Netgalley in exchange for an honest (though possibly biased) review.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    Writer, humorist, podcaster, PC guy, and Daily Show contributor John Hodgman is back, and he's telling (almost) the whole truth. In this collection of funny and reflective essays, Hodgman explores the existential symbolism of his patchy beard, how to navigate the social and natural wilds of Maine, and how even the weirdest dads have some "cool" cred. It's funny, and it's wrought--life is short, and Hodgman's book never lets you forget his (and your) impending demise.I was predisposed to love thi Writer, humorist, podcaster, PC guy, and Daily Show contributor John Hodgman is back, and he's telling (almost) the whole truth. In this collection of funny and reflective essays, Hodgman explores the existential symbolism of his patchy beard, how to navigate the social and natural wilds of Maine, and how even the weirdest dads have some "cool" cred. It's funny, and it's wrought--life is short, and Hodgman's book never lets you forget his (and your) impending demise.I was predisposed to love this book... I'm a fan of Hodgman's, and the comedic memoir is one of my favorite genres. But I came away from Vacationland feeling that it was just "okay."There are moments of wit, brilliance, and emotionality, surrounded by other moments that left me wondering "so what?" Hodgman's trademark humor is undermined here by a tendency to follow a joke with a self-congratulatory doubling-down that seems to say, "see what I did there?"Vacationland has the barebones of a great comedic memoir, but could use something more. Though I found myself saving several passages that were deftly articulate, funny, and relatable, the essays as a whole lack oomph.I received an ARC of this book in August 2017. It will be published on October 24, 2017.
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  • Portia
    January 1, 1970
    What. A. Delight.  I have been watching John Hodgman in various things for years but didn't really know anything about him so this was so much fun to read.  The essays varied in topic and I really got a rounded view of who John Hodgman is.  My roommates ended up reading most of the book with me because I kept having to share the best passages with them (which were the majority of the book).  It is so well written and I can't explain how much fun I had reading this.I did take points off, though, What. A. Delight.  I have been watching John Hodgman in various things for years but didn't really know anything about him so this was so much fun to read.  The essays varied in topic and I really got a rounded view of who John Hodgman is.  My roommates ended up reading most of the book with me because I kept having to share the best passages with them (which were the majority of the book).  It is so well written and I can't explain how much fun I had reading this.I did take points off, though, for his very wrong views of fudge.
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  • Troy
    January 1, 1970
    As a weird dad myself, I am the prime market for Vacationland but I can honestly say that this book connected with me deeply and in unexpected ways. It is a brilliantly disguised meditation on aging, on privilege, and on identity.
  • Mandy
    January 1, 1970
    I laughed out loud 4 times, if that's an indication.
  • John Tankersley
    January 1, 1970
    As we age, we become more sentimental. As he ages, so goes John Hodgman's writings. A memoir of a man struggling to keep his privilege in check from a man who grew up as the beneficiary of an unequal society. It was a real pleasure to hear his own internal monologue on raising his kids, struggling with his privilege, and being entertaining while he does it. This book seems like a less articulate dominant group response to BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME--but from a very different perspective. I hope Jo As we age, we become more sentimental. As he ages, so goes John Hodgman's writings. A memoir of a man struggling to keep his privilege in check from a man who grew up as the beneficiary of an unequal society. It was a real pleasure to hear his own internal monologue on raising his kids, struggling with his privilege, and being entertaining while he does it. This book seems like a less articulate dominant group response to BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME--but from a very different perspective. I hope John Hodgman writes more books in this vein. I enjoyed him here even more than I have in his other books. Well done. A very good read.
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  • Gaelen
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to this as an audiobook, which I highly recommend, because Hodgman's delivery adds a lot. It's the first book he's written that's an actual memoir, and it's terrific. It's not just funny, but it's insightful, charming, and self-aware. I think that even people who aren't already fans would enjoy it.
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  • Pop Bop
    January 1, 1970
    He's Such A TeaseLike Calvin Trillin, (who may be a bit more urbane and "citified" compared to Hodgman's more rueful suburban everyman persona), John Hodgman often feels like he's ever so gently teasing the reader, even as he amuses.In this collection Hodgman declares that he's pretty much burned out and used up, such that these pieces are sadly all that he has left. Maybe it's time for a retrospective and a little bit of a summing up. There's that tease, and a slyly false self-deprecating air t He's Such A TeaseLike Calvin Trillin, (who may be a bit more urbane and "citified" compared to Hodgman's more rueful suburban everyman persona), John Hodgman often feels like he's ever so gently teasing the reader, even as he amuses.In this collection Hodgman declares that he's pretty much burned out and used up, such that these pieces are sadly all that he has left. Maybe it's time for a retrospective and a little bit of a summing up. There's that tease, and a slyly false self-deprecating air that lets the reader in on the joke and feels oh so inviting. Even when Hodgman is being a bit pointed or edgy, and even when he's dismissing or mocking something or someone you might hold dear, he's still, well, friendly.None of these articles gets up on a high horse or goes in for a kill. This is much more thoughtful and gentle stuff, (often with Hodgman the butt of the humor), but that doesn't mean it doesn't resonate and it doesn't mean it doesn't make a point. Even when he's just being a husband or a father or an only child Hodgman can pluck a nerve or point out a few sticky truths. You will get semi-autobiographical essays about middle age, fatherhood, growing up an only child, and, famously, the "painful beaches" of Maine. Apparently, some of this material is drawn from his comedy tour, "Vacationland". (BTW, Hodgman has said that his original title for the book was - "John Hodgman Tells Absolutely, Maybe Awfully True Stories as He Sprints Toward Death in Emotionally and Literally Cold Places." So, I guess that works as a summary of this book too.)But all of that aside, this is very, very funny and witty writing by someone who knows what he is doing and is in complete command of his craft. As you read, and savor, you are amused and also impressed. That is an admirable combination, and this is a wonderful find.(Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
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  • Alison
    January 1, 1970
    I'm glad my sister recommended this to me. I wouldn't have checked it out based on the cover (I know, I know) and I wouldn't have realized that John Hodgman was the same guy who played the PC in Apple's PC vs. Mac ads, or that he'd been on The Daily Show. He's a great storyteller. Having just finished David Sedaris's Calypso, I was suffering a bit of humor withdrawal because I always get a bit attached to everyone in his family. Hodgman's book was a great salve for this... not because he gave me I'm glad my sister recommended this to me. I wouldn't have checked it out based on the cover (I know, I know) and I wouldn't have realized that John Hodgman was the same guy who played the PC in Apple's PC vs. Mac ads, or that he'd been on The Daily Show. He's a great storyteller. Having just finished David Sedaris's Calypso, I was suffering a bit of humor withdrawal because I always get a bit attached to everyone in his family. Hodgman's book was a great salve for this... not because he gave me another family to get attached to (he does a good job protecting the privacy of family and friends by focusing mainly on himself), but by giving me a set of places to get attached to. From his childhood stomping grounds in Western Mass, to his family's vacation home in Maine, his stories - while delightfully entertaining - also convey a strong sense of place. I'll now go back and see what else he's written - and hope for a sequel.
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  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    January 1, 1970
    The writing is OK, but the stories are warm and charming and sometimes funny. He also does a great job of reading this himself. 3.5⭐ The writing is OK, but the stories are warm and charming and sometimes funny. He also does a great job of reading this himself. 3.5⭐️
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  • Maureen
    January 1, 1970
    This was kinda funny. But I would definitely classify this guy as a "little shit."
  • TJ Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    It’s beauty lies in its muted but hilariously stylized content. Each essay builds and builds until profoundness territory. That’s the mark of a good book and good writing.
  • Tony
    January 1, 1970
    If you know who John Hodgman is and generally enjoy his dry sense of wit, then this book is for you -- congratulations. It's a loose and shaggy collection of reflections thematically connected through vacation homes in Massachusetts and Maine. If that sounds like an amazing feat of NPRish navel-gazing white privilege thematic stunt-work, well, Hodgman is certainly hep to that. His self-deprecation extends and stretches throughout the book in numerous asterixes noting the absurdity of his milieu If you know who John Hodgman is and generally enjoy his dry sense of wit, then this book is for you -- congratulations. It's a loose and shaggy collection of reflections thematically connected through vacation homes in Massachusetts and Maine. If that sounds like an amazing feat of NPRish navel-gazing white privilege thematic stunt-work, well, Hodgman is certainly hep to that. His self-deprecation extends and stretches throughout the book in numerous asterixes noting the absurdity of his milieu and himself as an unambiguous beneficiary of class and racial history. In any event, the book meanders amusingly along and had much the same effect on me as a decent personal reflection on the radio or a podcast does -- I enjoyed it at the time, but it left absolutely nothing behind behind a generally warm appreciation. I'm certain that in six months times I will remember literally nothing about this book beyond that vague sense of enjoyment.
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  • Dkettmann
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent book. Mr Hodgman turns away from fake trivia (as funny as those books were), and takes on the serious & profound. Wonderful stories about his time bouncing around the northeast USA, and growing up an only child. Equal parts touching & comedic, something for everyone.
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  • Noah
    January 1, 1970
    If you grew up riding the Red Line to Harvard Square in your teens, then spent your 20s in Western MA and now vacation in Maine... This is a really really really really really good book. Go read it now. Like..right now.
  • Cristina
    January 1, 1970
    Former deranged millionaire John Hodgman has run out of fun false facts and has decided to instead to get very, very real. In a collection of essays that span his migratory patterns across New England, he has pieced together a deeply personal memoir from reflections on his life. We visit western Massachusetts to learn deference to The Dumpmen and the rock-stacking river witches: we travel to the cruel beaches of Maine to contemplate privilege, aging, and the craftsmanship of boats. As a follower Former deranged millionaire John Hodgman has run out of fun false facts and has decided to instead to get very, very real. In a collection of essays that span his migratory patterns across New England, he has pieced together a deeply personal memoir from reflections on his life. We visit western Massachusetts to learn deference to The Dumpmen and the rock-stacking river witches: we travel to the cruel beaches of Maine to contemplate privilege, aging, and the craftsmanship of boats. As a follower of his podcast, audiobooks and Netflix special -- this is the first time I've physically read something of his. If I can even call it reading, this memoir is so true to Hodgman's voice, I literally heard it in my head. A fun brand of deadpan humor that is both self-deprecating and sincere.At one point, in reference to therapy, he says,"Just having permission to talk about yourself, to let your dumb thoughts out of your head so you can see them as they hang there in silence, is an illuminating gift."and I feel that it resonates the tone of the book as a whole. If writing up a memoir is what it takes to process one's existential dread from the relentless passage of time and the unruly nature of facial hair, then onward march, man. You're helping the rest of us feel less alone. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an entire drawer of mouse poop to continue to ignore.Note: This quote is from an Advance Reader Copy and may not be final.
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  • Hilary
    January 1, 1970
    My friend Carolyn introduced me last year to the Judge John Hodman podcast and I instantly fell in love. Hodgman's humor is wry, dry, and laden with a heavy dose of realist perspective and self-knowledge that few people seem to have. Hodgman is fine with people being selfish, they simply need to acknowledge the fact that they are. Own up to what you are, and the world will respect you for it. Be generous. Be mindful of the work you leave for others. Be true to yourself. Vacationland is a series My friend Carolyn introduced me last year to the Judge John Hodman podcast and I instantly fell in love. Hodgman's humor is wry, dry, and laden with a heavy dose of realist perspective and self-knowledge that few people seem to have. Hodgman is fine with people being selfish, they simply need to acknowledge the fact that they are. Own up to what you are, and the world will respect you for it. Be generous. Be mindful of the work you leave for others. Be true to yourself. Vacationland is a series of essays with common threads woven through them. To tell the jokes is to ruin the sometimes 50+ pages of set-up. The stories twist and twine, there are callbacks throughout, and the tapestry that is woven is ultimately a complex one. One laced in humor, yes, but one also that is very aware of its own mortality, what will be left behind after it's gone, and how much good having an open mind can get you in the world.Unlike most humor books, this is one with vast substance, and one that I am glad I got to read at this point in my life. A lot of the book resonated with me and comforted me. Buying a new home is scary, moving is scary, growing old and growing up is scary - but it's something we all do, and if we're humble about it and honest with ourselves ultimately we'll all come out all right in the end.
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  • Lane Fontana
    January 1, 1970
    NOW IM TRULY FREE AND CAN PICK ANY BOOK I WANT TO READ NEXTWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸
  • David Yoon
    January 1, 1970
    John Hodgman's Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches is what he refers to as his own brand of white privilege comedy wherein he talk about splitting his time between two summer homes in Maine and Western Massachusetts. Super relatable! He shares personal anecdotes about dining with neighbour Black Francis of the Pixies, buying a wooden Jimmy Steele peapod (it's a boat) and getting high while speaking at colleges. Sounds like the insufferable musings of white male privilege gone slightl John Hodgman's Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches is what he refers to as his own brand of white privilege comedy wherein he talk about splitting his time between two summer homes in Maine and Western Massachusetts. Super relatable! He shares personal anecdotes about dining with neighbour Black Francis of the Pixies, buying a wooden Jimmy Steele peapod (it's a boat) and getting high while speaking at colleges. Sounds like the insufferable musings of white male privilege gone slightly to seed - and you're not wrong ...except for the insufferable part. Maybe he'll always be the nebbish PC to the smug Mac of commercial fame but it's hard to dislike Hodgman. He's a charming storyteller, altogether aware of how lucky he is without being disingenuously modest or humblebraggy. He's just bringing us along as he settles into middle age and wrestles with what that means. I'm here for that.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Honestly, I never really liked John Hodgman. Until this book. I listened to the audiobook, and he made me laugh out loud through the entire thing. Well, not the part about his mom who died, that made me cry, but the entire rest of the book was so entertaining and self-aware and hilarious. Great essays and insight and necessary reading if you love the East Coast.
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  • Craig Dean
    January 1, 1970
    Hodgman delivers a light-hearted too short narrative with whimsical honesty, contemplation and reflection that flirts with nihilism. As he explores his mortality and middle aged anxiety he does so against the stunning backdrop of the old states. There is warmth, humour, cutting observation, and a good deal of apologetics that utterly (and willingly) fails to contain his anger at the rising backdrop of neo-conservatism and revealed racism.Here we have a well meaning liberal, focussed too much on Hodgman delivers a light-hearted too short narrative with whimsical honesty, contemplation and reflection that flirts with nihilism. As he explores his mortality and middle aged anxiety he does so against the stunning backdrop of the old states. There is warmth, humour, cutting observation, and a good deal of apologetics that utterly (and willingly) fails to contain his anger at the rising backdrop of neo-conservatism and revealed racism.Here we have a well meaning liberal, focussed too much on his own privileged guilt and angst to escape the pit of self pity and actually make the kind of difference his position could afford. Like I said, it’s brutal in its honesty, but such a powerful voice is wasted screaming at the mirror.What is missing is hope, and ultimately the book ends too soon, with no real conclusion. It’s like a gourmet meal - well crafted, revealing, innovative and ultimately, unsatisfactory. No one can demand that Hodgman should take the responsibility of fixing our broken world; and arguably the role of the comic is to highlight the absurdity of our condition - summoning laughter in the face of our own despair. However, this book doesn’t add much to the conversation that can be heard over every bubble dweller’s table; and the wry observation rarely creates hilarity.A great book should be more than well crafted; it should mean something. Hodgman is an author with real talent, but this is a disappointingly good book.
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  • Cate
    January 1, 1970
    Reading this was like reading a middle-aged white guy's diary. There were things I loved about this book-- Hodgman's sense of humor and delivery was very enjoyable; I especially loved the way he described his childhood self. The humor is the main reason I'm giving this a four star rating.There was one thing about this book I wasn't into-- he acknowledges the role of straight white male privilege in his life and its influence on how things turned out to him. Good. Even his "look at how white we a Reading this was like reading a middle-aged white guy's diary. There were things I loved about this book-- Hodgman's sense of humor and delivery was very enjoyable; I especially loved the way he described his childhood self. The humor is the main reason I'm giving this a four star rating.There was one thing about this book I wasn't into-- he acknowledges the role of straight white male privilege in his life and its influence on how things turned out to him. Good. Even his "look at how white we are jokes" were, in my opinion, funny. BUT he *constantly* acknowledges this privilege- even going so far as to go on a rant about police brutality against Black people (without actually saying "police brutality"), but offers no solutions, no suggestions about organizations to support, etc. Yet he CONSTANTLY brings up the fact that he has white privilege. That rubbed me the wrong way. Like yes, congrats, you get that privilege exists. That doesn't make you "woke." Is he using his privilege to make jokes about being privileged, and then making money off said jokes? Yes? Continuing the cycle of privilege? Probably? I'm not qualified to answer these questions. So, I have mixed but mostly good thoughts on this book. Although now after writing this review, I feel a little more negatively about it. I'm going to go read a book by a woman of color now.
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  • Doug Moe
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked John's book. If you're a fan of John Hodgman, you will understand immediately the tone of the humor here. He's coming to grips with the funny place he's found himself in - older, less cool, maybe settling into the comforts of middle-age. As a middle-aged white guy who thinks he's still cool myself, I can relate. Now granted, I do not have dinner with Black Francis of the Pixies, but even he acknowledges how strange that is.I guess that some people will not care about John's though I really liked John's book. If you're a fan of John Hodgman, you will understand immediately the tone of the humor here. He's coming to grips with the funny place he's found himself in - older, less cool, maybe settling into the comforts of middle-age. As a middle-aged white guy who thinks he's still cool myself, I can relate. Now granted, I do not have dinner with Black Francis of the Pixies, but even he acknowledges how strange that is.I guess that some people will not care about John's thoughts on vacation homes and the difficulties thereof. Those people are free to read many other harrowing accounts of much tougher lives. But I admire that John didn't try to wring trauma from places where there is none. His story is about finding yourself doing well, about mice in your garage and the town dump. He's fully aware (as is your typical John Hodgman fan) that this constitutes what he calls "privilege comedy." But look, a little below the surface there is sadness, loss and coming to terms with change. I'm happy to find John where he is and listen to him there.
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  • Chaitra
    January 1, 1970
    For the life of me I can't remember John Hodgman from The Daily Show. (I do remember him from the Mac/PC ads though). I only borrowed the book because my library's overdrive had it and I needed a V title. It was also short enough for me to read through the thing in a few hours. I didn't have any expectations, but it was funny. Not very funny - it's autobiographical and as such some of it is painful and raw and other parts are an acknowledgement of the privileged life the author has had. But Main For the life of me I can't remember John Hodgman from The Daily Show. (I do remember him from the Mac/PC ads though). I only borrowed the book because my library's overdrive had it and I needed a V title. It was also short enough for me to read through the thing in a few hours. I didn't have any expectations, but it was funny. Not very funny - it's autobiographical and as such some of it is painful and raw and other parts are an acknowledgement of the privileged life the author has had. But Maine, we went on a vacation a few years ago, and were surprised at the lack of a) brown people, and b) young people under the age of 65. The landscape was beautiful, but as we drove up the coast, (we went all the way up to Lubec), it was absolutely unsurprising that Stephen King was from there and set his stories there. So that was fun to read about. It's not a book I would say is an absolute must read, but a Hodgman fan will probably get more out of it than I did.
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  • Ben
    January 1, 1970
    This book was EXTREMELY my jam. I'm a fan of John Hodgman's podcast (and what I've seen of his live show ith Jean Grae), but his previous books have never quite done it for me. Now that he's turned his comedic eye on himself, it's completely clicked.
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  • Matt Trowbridge
    January 1, 1970
    Hodgman has written an excellent series of interwoven personal essays in Vactionland. He is an insightful, hilarious, and articulate writer. I have to imagine, given his disdain for cliches, that Hodgman hates that this book is of the type that can be described as one that induces laughter and tears on the same page, sometimes in the same sentence.
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