Saturday, September 16, 2006


The Areas Of My Expertise by John Hodgman

A Book Review by J.D. Finch

Mr. Hodgman, with this item, has produced what he chooses to call a "book" and has finally cleared the air about the hightop waders that I and other sportsman like to don to go perambulating through crystal clear streams where we pull our near brainless scaley dinners-to-be out with line and pole.

While this "fishing" is "a good thing to do" as a much better writer than Mr. Hodgman, Ernest Hemingway...Ernest-O to his strapping Cuban pool boy...said in so many exotic and accented words so the lad could understand, we should not expect the quality of writing of EH from the nonbooted Hodgman, since, as legend has it, he is more a former lit agent than a writer in the mold of writers. (As Ms. Stein would surely say if she were here, on what is loosely referred to as "The Earth" in Mr. Hodgman's "book.")

Even though for a time Mr. Hodgman and I traveled in the same literary circles, I never laid eyes on the guy and fully believe that he was avoiding me and the inevitable question that writers of Mr. Hodgman's stripe dread, ie, "So what's on the back burner?" ("Bigger" writers than Mr. Hodgman, like David Foster Wallace, might have a $8.00 per pound crustacean happily (or not) boiling away on that burner, while the humble Mr. Hodman might be found frying up a perch or even a "crappy.") Hopefully Mr. Hodgman will cover this question in his follow-up to TAOME.

True, he nearly answers this traffic-stopping question in TAOME when he lays out his expertised skivvies and grabs the bull by the horns, giving us all a good view of what he considers both "areas" and "expertise" as they appear in the title, and offered to his grateful readers -- it is said -- by way of his expert brain. But surely here he is actually dealing with "front-burner" material.

But I fear some folks who were taken in by Mr. Hodgman's sometimes "Aw shucks," at others "F*** you" humor, expected a gay excursion along a Robert Benchleyesque Roundtable of hot wit and incisive bon mots, which in fact, paradoxically, is exactly what we get. And as advertised.


(NB All the above was just an aside -- as isn't most knowledge just that on your trip to becoming whatever your calling (be it high-falutin' expert like Mr. Hodgman or low laborer, like someone called "Ace" or something) is? Or as the blue collared "Aces" among us would have it, "life's a bitch, then you die." But then again, anyone reading this is a more advanced reader than that -- or so would say Mr. Hodgman, who happily or sadly -- weather permitting -- considers himself an expert on such things.)

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