‘The Leering, Gap-toothed Fife Player’

From the NY Times Book review came this quote from a review by Henry Alford of John Hodgeman’s “The Areas of My Expertise.”

“Many people know the Oscar Wilde lament, ‘it is a sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information,’ but how many people are actually DOING anything about it? Hodgman is…he writes early on in this collection of lists, advice, fake histories and trivia that it is “a compendium of COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE.” Here at last is everything you’ve always wanted to know about practically nothing:

* Short words for use on submarines to preserve oxygen
* idiosyncrasies of the Great Detectives.
* Diversions for the Asthmatic Child who Cannot Play in the Snow
* Colonial Jobs Involving Eels
* Nine Presidents who Had Hooks for Hands

The success of this and other titles like the Onion’s Our Dumb Centuryprove that the fake reference book is ‘having a moment;’ Hodgman’s book is the leering, gap-toothed fife player in that bumptious parade.”