Tagged: History

The United States of Absurdity


The United States of Absurdity by Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds illustrated by James Fosdike is one of the funniest books I’ve ever come across.

I was only introduced to The Dollop a few months ago by one of my best friends. I’m somewhat of a podcast addict, I love Night Vale, My Favourite Murder and Hamish & Andy. When I first listened to The Dollop is wasn’t feeling it, then my friend said “Listen to the Rube episode.” after that I was hooked.

Earlier this year the hosts of The Dollop announced they were releasing a book, obviously I couldn’t wait.

I don’t even know where to start when taking about this book as it’s so obscure. If like me you have no interest in American history whatsoever, this is the book for you! Every page of The United States of Absurdity is hilarious. Dave Anthony and Garry Reynolds have plucked some of the most ridiculous stories from America’s past, by the time you reach the end of this book you’ll be left fathoming how as a race we are still alive.

Have you heard of Oofty Goofy or Ten-Cent Beer Night? No, of course you haven’t, but they’re amazing stories you need to read to believe!

The illustrations by James Fosdike are great and a little traumatising (check out The Stomach Men page for nightmare fuel).

This book is worth every penny and I really hope they decide to do a sequel.


Getting out of a book funk

I had said in my last post that Murakami had put me out of sorts. I was struggling to find and enjoy new novel. I had finished Cell by Stephen King but I still had that weird post-Murakami depression, luckily it’s not long until The Strange Library is published. After feeling sorry for myself for a few days I decided to have a browse to see if I could find a someone new to read, as luck would have it on a quiet Sunday a new book caught my eye.

I pretty much have a preconditioned weakness for anything with Japan in the title so when I spotted Bending Adversity by David Pilling I knew I had to read it.



For anyone even slightly interested in modern Asia Pilling brings history, politics and economics to life in this outstanding look at Japan. Opening with a harrowing account of the 2011 tsunami, Pilling leaves readers in shock and astonishment of how Japan or any nation for that matter can overcome the level of devastation that follows a natural disaster. Within a few chapters I found myself looking up flight prices for Tokyo.

Pilling’s way of bleeding history, economics and social science is seamless. Even if you only have a tourists knowledge of Japan, Pilling highlights the triumphs of what can be a mysterious land and it’s equally enigmatic culture. Bending Adversity doesn’t shy away from Japan’s shortcomings either, discussing World War II and Japan’s early isolation from the rest of the world.

Pilling doesn’t overwhelm his readers with facts and figures but uses his strengths as a journalist to find anecdotes and relays them in elegant way, keeping the reader on board with every word.

Pilling’s writing is dignified and engrossing. Bending Adversity is easily the most interesting book about Japan to be published in years. Thanks David Pilling and Penguin for getting me out of a reading-rut.