Sunday, August 21, 2011

A RIGHT Good Travelogue

Holidays in Heck P.J. O'Rourke

When you read P.J. O' Rourke books you are automatically dropped into really funny situations with genuinely snarky writing. From his bachelor days impressing dates with how clean his house is (by stuffing everything in a closet and spraying the air with Pledge) to his war reporting from various dangerous hell-holes, O'Rourke can find the humor in the improbable. His newest title, Holidays in Heck, takes him from war correspondent to family man as he navigates the world of fun vacation spots with the wife and kids, or he-man challenges to such far flung places as the Galapagos, Kyrgyzstan, and China.
Some of his essays are drop dead hysterical, as when he describes plane travel rules that we all have experienced and dread. The deluxe family skiing vacation in Alpine Valley Ohio (not Vail or Aspen or Gstaad) is a scream, yet absolutely perfect in a twisted sort of way. But if you know his writing, you are always waiting for that republican/conservative slant to get in the way of the fun. For example, when his family is coerced into visiting the American History Museum in Washington D.C., they play a spirited game of spot the way "political correctness" is inserted into American History by highlighting contributions made by women and minorities. Sorry but I know history wasn't just made by dead white men and I applaud the Museum for expressing this. A piece on landing aircraft on the carrier Theodore Roosevelt morphed into a political screed on John McCain, the gist of which was that if he could land on an aircraft carrier, he's the guy most qualified to run the country. He seems to forget that McCain crashed three planes, the last ending in his POW capture; not exactly a glowing resume bullet-point.
I enjoyed the book, with some reservations. O 'Rourke should decide to either write humor or become a political columnist but mixing both together does not serve him well.