The back cover of a book is generally a place that publishers festoon with accolades for the book’s author and his current or previous works. It’s a place to put snippets of glorifying raves issued by those who should know what they’re talking about. In other words, the back cover is a sales pitch for what’s inside.
Consider then that on the back of That is All, John Hodgman’s third and final installment in his Complete World Knowledge trilogy, there is only one simple nine-word quote attributed to fellow author Neil Gaiman (Coraline, episodes of Dr. Who.)” “If you meet Hodgman on the road, kill him.”
There’s a reason for this. Hodgman has a very twisted sense of humor, and this tongue-in-cheek tone is packed full of witticisms like, “The Da Vinci bat of South America is not actually a bat but a mouse wearing little wings it fashioned out of sticks and bat skin” and “You can bring a monkey into a restaurant in France if you explain that it is your witch-daughter.”
Want to know what pairs nicely with a glass of rose? Hodgman suggests a bowl of brown. Advice for those about to embark on a cruise includes instruction not to “interrupt the wild-eyed man clothed only in clacking dried crab shells and a seaweed skirt who is screaming to the clouds---he is the Crab Claw Priest, Minister of the Waves, and he is keeping the sea serpents away.”
Whether he’s talking about sports, foreign customs, crime or magic---and at 1,000 pages he talks a lot here---Hodgman is nothing short of bat-shit crazy. And quite funny. Not everyone will “get” That is All, but those who do will have hours and hours of fun with this “bathroom reader”-style book.