Book Review 


John Hodgman is a man of great knowledge. Most of it is false, but all of it is hilarious. In fact, Expertise manages to be a most perplexingly funny read. Hodgman's extremely dry style and his sly combination of "information" that, at first glance, could be legitimate – "Prohibition-Era Euphemisms for Alcohol" – with things that are clearly bizarre – "Colonial Jobs Involving Eels" – requires a complete suspension of disbelief and a willingness to simply marvel at his brainy stupidity. Hodgman dedicates 28 of this book's 232 pages to "What You Did Not Know About Hoboes" (including "Seven Hundred Hobo Names," which continues into the next non-hobo chapter) and provides several useful charts like "Classic Ice- and Snowballs." This is perhaps the only book where you can learn what to tip the "starling boy" at your next hotel or what types of tattoos actuaries prefer, and it's definitely the only book that is as funny as it is perplexing.

The Areas of My Expertise
By John Hodgman

(Dutton, 232 pages)

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