Comedy is one of the hardest genres to get right. If the author stumbles in the least, the book becomes a painful experience. Fortunately, John Hodgman not only succeeds, he puts on a clinic on how to create a world.
“That Is All” is the third and final book in a trilogy by John Hodgman which details a bizarre and insanely detailed world, one where the Mall of America hides a secret underground compound, the Elder Gods are joined by a pantheon of hundreds of bizarre gods, and the Washington Monument launches into orbit leaving a raging inferno behind. After the first two books established this vivid and realized world, “That Is All” looks at the collapse and apocalyptic end of the world. It’s hilarious, detailed and rich.
What I didn’t expect was how moving the conclusion of this book would be. At the end of all this silly anarchy, Hodgman forges a fairly profound reflection that genuinely surprised me. We knew Hodgman was a brilliant comedian. “That Is All” shows us something more: he’s a remarkably talented author who can write some shockingly effecting prose. This is one of the best works of comedy I’ve ever read, and one of the best books of 2011.