Holidays in Heck
By P. J. O'Rourke
(Atlantic Monthly Press, Hardcover, 9780802119858, 288pp.)
Publication Date: November 2011
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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 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.
P.J. O’Rourke is the author of 13 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 Don't Vote -- It Just Encourages the Bastards.
When he retired from his job as a war correspondent, P.J. O'Rourke decided to take on a new kind of globe-trotting challenge: traveling for fun. In Holidays in Heck, he explains how touring the Galapagos Islands and horseback riding in Kyrgyzstan left him questioning the merits of recreational travel. More at NPR.org
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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. . . . This is my kind of O’Rourke: grouchy, quick and there to make you laugh.”San Francisco Chronicle
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
[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
Entertaining . . . [O’Rourke is] an engaging writer, regardless of the topic.”Library Journal
"A spin with P.J. O'Rourke is like a ride in the back of an old pickup over unpaved roads. You get where you're going fast, with exhilarating views--but not without a few bruises."The New York Times Book Review on Holidays in Hell