Holidays in Heck

Holidays in Heck

4.5 2
by P. J. O'Rourke
     
 

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P.J. O'Rourke is one of today's most celebrated political humorists, and has been hailed as "the funniest writer in America" by both Time and The Wall Street Journal. Two decades ago he published the classic travelogue Holidays in Hell, in which he traversed the globe on a fun-finding mission to what were then some of the most desperate places onSee more details below

Overview

P.J. O'Rourke is one of today's most celebrated political humorists, and has been hailed as "the funniest writer in America" by both Time and The Wall Street Journal. Two decades ago he published the classic travelogue Holidays in Hell, in which he traversed the globe on a fun-finding mission to what were then some of the most desperate places on the planet, including Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast.

In Holidays in Heck, P.J. embarks on supposedly more comfortable and allegedly less dangerous travels—often with family in tow—which mostly leave him wishing he were under artillery fire again. The essays take O'Rourke on a whirlwind of adventures, beginning at the National Mall in Washington, which he describes as having been designed with the same amazing "greatest generation" aesthetic sensibility that informed his parents' living room. We follow him as he takes his family on a ski vacation (to the Aspen of the Midwest—Ohio—where the highest point of elevation is the six-food ski instructor that his wife thinks is cute). And later he experiences a harrowing horseback ride across the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

The result is a hilarious and often moving portrait of life in the fast lane—only this time as a husband and father.

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Editorial 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.)
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

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:
9780802195111
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
11/01/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
563,975
File size:
1 MB

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