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
ReleaseOct 24th, 2017
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780735224803
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Humor, Autobiography, Memoir, Writing, Essays, Biography Memoir

Vacationland Review

  • 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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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    4.5, in fact. I think I might need to write about this one for real when I get back from vacation.
  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Chad
    January 1, 1970
    Anyone familiar with the Judge John Hodgman podcast (highly recommended) will enjoy this collection of stories from Hodgman, a purveyor of what someone in the book calls "white privilege comedy". There are stories—usually in his wry, self-deprecating style—about accidentally acquiring an old wooden rowboat, about growing up an only child, about vacationing in rural Maine, and about a particularly adventurous speaking engagement at a college. Often funny, sometimes poignant, and always self-awa Anyone familiar with the Judge John Hodgman podcast (highly recommended) will enjoy this collection of stories from Hodgman, a purveyor of what someone in the book calls "white privilege comedy". There are stories—usually in his wry, self-deprecating style—about accidentally acquiring an old wooden rowboat, about growing up an only child, about vacationing in rural Maine, and about a particularly adventurous speaking engagement at a college. Often funny, sometimes poignant, and always self-aware, this stories will be best read by a fireplace with a fancy drink in hand.(Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.)
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting mix of autobiographical essays about getting older and random thoughts. I enjoyed it because a) I grew up in Maine and he _nails_ what it's like to be a Mainer and b) it's quite humorous. It's a short book, easy to read and will make you laugh out loud. Give it a try!
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  • Martin
    January 1, 1970
    Enjoyable mix of a personal narrative and evolution and growth of the celebrity author. The book merits a higher evaluation in the northeast
  • Elena
    January 1, 1970
    Hilarious, of course. I would happily read John's witty & sentimental reflections on parenthood, Maine, Massachussets, indie music, politics, and so much more every day!
  • Alice
    January 1, 1970
    John Hodgman is charming.
  • 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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