Sunday, May 06, 2012

[Books] Book Look: Holidays in Heck, by P. J. O'Rourke

Book Look: Holidays in Heck, by P.J. O'Rourke: Good ol' P.J. You can always depend him for good humoured, but keen, insight. He previously documented his time as a correspondent in some of the most dangerous places in the world in Holidays in Hell. Now in his sixties and forbidden by age and spouse and good sense for pressing his luck in further in yet another hazardous rat hole somewhere, he's turned his attention to old late middle age in general and the family vacation in particular; trying but not terrifying, hence Holidays in Heck.

That's not to say the stories here are lightweight. Although there are entertaining tales of skiing in Ohio (yes, Ohio) and less than glowing reviews of a couple of leviathan museums (Field Museum in Chicago and the American History Museum on the National Mall), there is also a lengthy trip to China pre-Three Gorges dam, short jaunt to Kabul where he comes to the conclusion that nobody knows anything, and a two-part brush with cancer with mortality as the antagonist -- all carry weight but lightened by comedy.

It is perhaps not as high energy, ironic, or skeptical as his previous stuff, but that's also true to his years. If nothing else, P.J. is still everyman confronting an increasingly bizarre and incomprehensible world with wit and spirit and a deep appreciation of the absurd. Should you read Holidays in Heck? Heck yes.