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A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information

by The Onion

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-13326-5
Publisher: Little, Brown

The irreverent crew from the long-running satirical newspaper and website present a compendium of mock encyclopedia entries, lavishly illustrated.

Much like any recent episode of Saturday Night Live, this faux textbook serves up a fair share of both hits and misses, although those designations will undoubtedly vary according to readers’ particular interests. Those who don’t find a graph of family relations hilarious (“Son: Male child who slowly turns into his father by not living up to his father’s expectations”) may snicker at the pithy definitions that line the margins of each page (“IMAX: Type of widescreen cinematography that makes some nothing suburb feel like it’s getting somewhere”). There is plenty of political satire, entertainment satire and incredibly detailed medical diagrams that could fool the unwary at first glance but that upon closer scrutiny contain labels like, “Podiatry: Field specializing in those afflicted with feet,” and “Iris: Thin tissue whose pigment actual careers and livelihoods have been based on.” While much of the text provides the sharp wit and oddball ramblings that The Onion has made its bread and butter, the true standout feature of the book is its artwork. This volume begs to be read in actual book format instead of on an electronic reader; miraculously, for the digital age, it manages to capture some of the thrill of skimming encyclopedias, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! collections and other beloved fact/trivia books from the mid-to-late 20th century. And when you do come across a glimmer of the heartfelt, as in the entry on how Frank Lloyd Wright lost the love of his life, it makes the browsing experience that much richer.

A grab bag well worth dipping into and a testament to the still-thriving art of book design.