More Information Than You Require by John Hodgman: B-

From the front flap:
When John Hodgman first embarked on his project to assemble, tabulate, and completely make up a comprehensive survey of COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE, he was but a former professional literary agent and occasional scribbler of fake trivia—in short, A NOBODY. But during an interview on The Daily Show with John Stewart, an incredible transformation occurred—he became A FAMOUS MINOR TELEVISION PERSONALITY. Hodgman realized from this unique vantage point that he understood better than ever that THERE IS SOME WORLD KNOWLEDGE YET TO BE DOCUMENTED. And so he has returned, crashing his Kansas farmhouse down upon the wicked witch of IGNORANCE to bring you MORE INFORMATION THAN YOU REQUIRE.

Review:
I’m aware that I have a rather particular sense of humor. And so it’s really not a surprise that I didn’t find More Information Than You Require to be all that funny. I’m more apt to giggle at a silly comment than I am to laugh at a lengthy essay full of clever falsehoods, of which this book is primarily comprised. That isn’t to say that the book is entirely lacking in funny lines—my favorite is “First, get a pig’s spleen. They are often just lying around.”—but that they are few and far between.

Most of the material is at least somewhat amusing, eliciting a snerk here or there, but I don’t think I smiled even once while reading the absolutely ponderous chapter on mole-men near the end; references to Fraggle Rock couldn’t even endear it to me. I didn’t care for the recurring jokes about harm befalling cats, the occasional vulgarity, or the little page-a-day calendar blurbs that disrupted one’s flow of reading and which Hodgman himself seemed to acknowledge as annoying, saying, “You can’t avoid [reading them] forever.”

However! There are also some very nice stories buried in here, those with a more personal feel that seem to be at least marginally grounded in reality. The chapter on being famous, for example, is terrific, and I loved reading Hodgman’s perspective of being recognized. There’s also a really sweet story about vacationing in Portugal as a younger man, waiting for his girlfriend (now wife) to return from a solo journey she’d made, which includes the surprisingly touching line, “And even now, a decade and a half later, when she is out of my sight, I never stop looking for her.”

Alas, I think campaigning for more stories like that would be asking Hodgman to abandon… well, being Hodgman. I still wish the fellow well, but I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of his books. They’re just not my kind of humor.

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