Holidays in Heck

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Overview


Over twenty years ago, P.J. O’Rourke published Holidays in Hell, the classic travelogue that found him searching for excitement in places like Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast. In Holidays in Heck, the man dubbed “the funniest writer in America” by Time and The Wall Street Journal steps into the new and slightly less dangerous territory of the family vacation.

The O’Rourke clan treks to places as close to home as Disneyland and Washington, D.C., and as far-flung as China, all while...

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Overview


Over twenty years ago, P.J. O’Rourke published Holidays in Hell, the classic travelogue that found him searching for excitement in places like Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast. In Holidays in Heck, the man dubbed “the funniest writer in America” by Time and The Wall Street Journal steps into the new and slightly less dangerous territory of the family vacation.

The O’Rourke clan treks to places as close to home as Disneyland and Washington, D.C., and as far-flung as China, all while P.J. attempts to dissuade his wife from shopping and keep his children entertained. His travels often leave him wishing he were under artillery fire again. At one point, the family takes a ski trip—to Ohio. Here, he warns his daughter not to ski out of bounds, “because it’s completely flat.” Later, during their visit to the National Museum of American History, P.J. calls the building, “ugly in a way that’s best described as built in 1964.” And one of his solo adventures takes him on a horse trek across the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, where his route consists of cliff faces that leave him dangling very much off of his saddle.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A prolific humorist continues his outpouring of solid writing. . . some very fine travel writing, the best of which is wickedly droll—O'Rourke at his very best. . . . Here's hoping there's another 15 books still to come.”—Los Angeles Times

“[O’Rourke is] just as funny but also challenging himself when working outside of topicality. . . . a likable, brisk little brother to my favorite, 1988’s Holidays in Hell. . . . [T]his is my kind of O’Rourke: grouchy, quick and there to make you laugh.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“If all of America’s registered Republicans were struck by an ideology-specific bird flu, and 50 among them had to be placed in a secure bunker to repopulate the species entirely, P.J. O’Rourke would hold a place on many people’s list, mine included. He’s funny. He tends to be against boredom and in favor of the pursuit of nonsobriety. He has a sharp nose for cant and bogusness. His conservatism is rooted in a fondness for ordinary things and a philosophy of individual common sense.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“In this cheeky follow-up to Holidays in Hell, former war correspondent O’Rourke trades battle zones for more appealing travel destinations, often with his family in tow. . . . The exotic . . . rub shoulders with the more mundane . . . and all of them share O’Rourke’s razor wit. . . . O’Rourke loses none of his sly humor, finding many opportunities to lampoon American politics under his new guise as a traveling family man.”—Publishers Weekly

“O’Rourke offers the fresh perspective of a neophyte civilian and family traveler along with his own acerbic wit about politics, recreation, economics, and family life. . . . The essays are as humorous and charmingly meandering as his travels.”—Booklist

Holidays in Heck is P.J. O’Rourke’s sequel to Holidays in Hell. While the two books are distinguished by their time and O’Rourke’s evolving position in life, they are connected by P.J’s never-aging humor. . . . I loved Holidays in Heck just as much as its prequel. P. J. is helping us all get older.” —Rick Robinson, The Daily Caller

“Entertaining . . . [O’Rourke is] an engaging writer, regardless of the topic.” —Library Journal

“[O’Rourke] provides colorful, earthy descriptive passages regarding stag hunts in Britain, extreme horseback riding in the wild of Kyrgyzstan, a poignant look at his bout with cancer, and a brief jaunt to Kabul, Afghanistan. Red meat for his fans.”—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this cheeky follow-up to Holidays in Hell, former war correspondent O'Rourke trades battle zones for more appealing travel destinations, often with his family in tow. Deciding after the Iraq War that he was "too old to be scared stiff and too stiff to sleep on the ground," O'Rourke switches to travel writing after 21 years covering various conflicts. The exotic—a sailing trip to the Galápagos Islands in "Republicans Evolving" or a horse trek through the mountains of Kyrgyzstan in "A Horse of a Different Color"—rub shoulders with the more mundane—a family skiing vacation in "Round on the Ends and ‘Hi!' in the Middle," a trip to Disneyland in "The Decline and Fall of Tomorrow"—and all of them share O'Rourke's razor wit. The family skiing vacation is made more hilarious by its being in Ohio (his eldest daughter doesn't like long hills), and the plethora of wildlife observed during the Galápagos jaunt become stand-ins for our country's political parties. The majority of essays were assigned by Forbes Life and reworked by O'Rourke for this collection; "Capitol Gains," the O'Rourke family's aborted tour of the Washington, D.C., sights is previously unpublished. O'Rourke loses none of his sly humor, finding many opportunities to lampoon American politics under his new guise as a traveling family man. (Nov.)
Library Journal
O'Rourke, conservative humorist and best-selling author, offers up a collection of entertaining essays, most of which have been previously published in the Atlantic Monthly and Forbes. They display a less provocative O'Rourke than fans who enjoyed Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance might wish for; snide jabs at President Obama or people and things that could be deemed liberal are kept to a minimum. O'Rourke's stories of taking his three young children to Hong Kong and on a skiing trip to Ohio are the most appealing, tame, and funny (he describes his seven-year-old daughter skiing as "part ballerina and part frog"). Other essays take him horse-trekking in Kyrgyzstan, up the Yangtze River in China, and back to the future, as in the 1950s House of the Future at Disneyland. VERDICT Readers looking to reinforce their love or hate for O'Rourke's opinions will find little meat here, but he's an engaging writer, regardless of the topic. [See Prepub Alert, 5/9/11.]—Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts Lib., North Adam
Kirkus Reviews
The prolific cultural commentator offers a miscellany of (mostly) travel pieces, a follow-up of sorts to his collection of war journalism, Holidays in Hell (1988). Having retired from the hazards of war, O'Rourke (Don't Vote--It Just Encourages the Bastards, 2010, etc.) faces the challenge of learning to travel for leisure with his family: "What is this thing called fun? To judge by traveling with my wife and daughters it has something to do with shopping for clothes." Many of the essays are unabashed paeans to the pastimes of wealthy, middle-aged Republicans: The author visits ski resorts, hunting preserves and even a tour of the Galápagos Islands. Unfortunately, despite lovingly described meals and leisure, these serve as excuses for O'Rourke to rail against uptight liberals who love perverted art and oppressive government and hate guns, hunting, the outdoors and good times. This predictable rhetorical structure reaches its nadir in an irritating essay on the 2005 Venice Biennale, where O'Rourke expresses a strange anger towards the entire edifice of contemporary art: "The Guerrilla Girls are too young to remember what a babe Gloria Steinem was…[and] too old to realize how beside the point their point is." The problem here is not the author's conservative views, but rather that his writing has become increasingly sour and lazy. The better pieces are built more around straightforward reportage and observation, such as two essays narrating his trips through the new economic powerhouse of China. He also provides colorful, earthy descriptive passages regarding stag hunts in Britain, extreme horseback riding in the wilds of Kyrgyzstan, a poignant look at his bout with cancer and a brief jaunt to Kabul, Afghanistan. Red meat for his fans, unlikely to convert new ones.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802145956
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/13/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 595,249
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

P. J. O’Rourke is the author of twelve books, including Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance, both of which were #1 New York Times best sellers. His most recent book is the best seller On the Wealth of Nations.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: A Former War Correspondent Experiences Frightening Vacation Fun 1

1 Republicans Evolving: The Galapagos Elands, April 2003 7

2 Monumental Generations: The National World War FL Memorial, Washington, D.C. June 2004 17

3 Round on the Ends and "Hi!" in the Middle: Ohio Skiing, February 2005 23

4 Riding to the Hounds versus Going to the Dogs: Britain after the Hunting Ban, March 2005 35

5 My EU Vacation: Reading the European Constitution on a French Beach, Guadeloupe, May 2005 53

6 On First Looking into the Airbus A380: Toulouse, June 2005 59

7 If You Think Modern Life Is Awful, You Haven't Seen Modern Art: Venice Biennale, July 2005 75

8 My Wife's Got a Gun: Brays Eland Plantation, South Carolina, February 2006 85

9 A Freedom Ride through China: Spring 2006 95

10 Side Trip Up the Yangtze: June 2006 127

11 A Horse of a Different Color: Kyrgyzstan, July 2006 141

12 Sweet-and-Sour Children and Twice-Fried Parents to Go: Hong Kong, December 2007 159

13 The Big Stick, or Why I Voted for John McCain: USS Theodore Roosevelt, April 2008 177

14 White Man Speak with Forked Tongue: The Field Museum, Chicago, May 2008 187

15 The Decline and Fall of Tomorrow: Disneyland, June 2008 199

16 A Journey to … Let's Not Go There: Summer 2008 213

17 The Seventy-Two-Hour Afghan Expert: Kabul, July 2010 227

18 Capital Gains: Washington, D. C, August 2010 253

19 Home Unalone: New Hampshire, March 2011 263

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    Lol:) serena was here again

    Hello anyone in here????

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2011

    Amusing even for non-conservatives

    I enjoy O'Rourke's writing; he has a much better sense of humor and self-deprecation than other well-known "conservatives."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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