Books of 2013, #10: THAT IS ALL, by John Hodgman

Good LORD I’m behind on these things — plus, as my general posting frequency has showed, I’m a little swamped at work. A few books will have to get the short shrift to allow me to catch up, as over the weekend I finished book #13.

THAT IS ALL is Hodgman’s final entry is his “Complete World Knowledge” trilogy, and what you get here is more of what you got in the other two. I’ll confess I actually skipped the second entry, but enjoyed the first when it came out back in 2005.

Because of this, I can’t really tell you much about how the style evolves, but I can tell you that Hodgman is playing at a more substantial game here than just a recitation of made-up facts. TIA concerns itself primarily with a countdown to the end of the world, events leading up to or contributing to it, ways in which one may prepare, and how he intends to survive as a deranged millionaire.

But there’s a metaphor at work here, too, that Hodgman winked at during his performance on the nerd cruise last month, when talking about his children. He noted that everything ever said, more or less, about one’s children boils down to “children are awesome, and I am dying.” He’s not wrong. Obviously, a meditation on the end of the world is a charmingly and grandiose way of confronting the sense of mortality one inevitably acquires in middle life.

Frankly, I was a little surprised how much I enjoyed TIA as an actual book (instead of a multi-hundred-page joke, which is what I expected). I’m actually considering revisiting the first book, and reading the second, as a consequence.

One note, btw: don’t skip the list of 700 ancient and unspeakable gods. There’s gold in there (just as I’m sure there’s gold in the list of hobos in the first book).

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