True Stories From Secret Rooms
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The actor, humorist, and podcast host reflects on his Hollywood status and beyond.

In this follow-up of sorts to Vacationland (2017), Hodgman continues his storytelling journey through recent career and personal life experiences. The title references his frequent flier program attached to his favorite airline. His obsession with the accumulating airline perks serves as a continuing metaphor within this loosely constructed narrative. “These stories are about my life and jobs in Hollywood ‘Workland,’ while I was briefly welcome in that country,” writes the author. “But there’s no hiding that these really are stories about fame, and especially its dwindling. They are stories about the many different kinds of gifting lounges, private parties, and secret societies I was given entrance to just because I was on television sometimes, and to which I am no longer invited….” Throughout, Hodgman shares anecdotes about his varied, often amusing experiences working in show business. Early on, the author’s humor fails to make an impact, often feeling forced, but the narrative improves as it moves along. In describing his desperate quest to receive a party invite while staying at the trendy Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, he offers wry insights into Hollywood’s ranking system. Much of Hodgman’s best writing involves his non-Hollywood experiences. In the humorous and surprisingly poignant chapter “This Was All Optional,” he recounts his 18-year relationship with his curmudgeonly cat, who had to be put down. In “Two Buildings in Florida,” the author chronicles his tour through Florida with the Boston Pops, taking detours to one of the headquarters of Scientology and Mar-a-Lago. “A Stranger Comes to Town” recounts his experiences as a part-time resident in rural Maine along with the quirky perks of becoming a well-grounded community member. A dry-witted and meandering writing style seems to have become Hodgman’s trademark, and his latest will appeal most to his devoted readers.

Up-and-down humor and intermittently engaging storytelling that falls short of the author’s capabilities.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-525-56110-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2019


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