Is this the best “anti”-holiday book of all time? Well quite possibly, as Karl Pilkington gives us an insight into how holiday books aren’t usually written whilst talking about his own trips and often the problems with them in an excellent book that he describes as “A travel guide”. Pilkington may not be known to many (despite this being his second book) and to those who do know the name, that will almost certainly be in conjuncture with his work with Ricky Gervais. Karl’s first book “The World Of Karl Pilkington” was based on the radio show, that became one of the biggest listened to PodCasts in history, as he worked as the producer on the show.
In recent times Pilkington has found himself as bit of a cult figure appearing not only in the podcasts, the radio show on XFM previous to the podcasts, Ricky Gervais’ DVD’s, Extras TV show and his own shows, including one opposite the weirdo that is David Icke. The show with Icke , the man who on air said he was Jesus, and has written books on his belief the world is run by aliens may actually have been one of the best things on TV in a long time. And of course he’s released 3 books (the final one being “Karlology” from 2008).
This book then, is a humorous look at the holidaying exploits of the author through out his his, from childhood to more modern day holidays with his girlfriend and friends. The book starts off with a section about being with Suzanne’s (Karl’s long time girlfriend) parents and then with his own parents for a bank holiday. Whilst with his own folks they go shopping, and his mother goes off alone to do some shopping with out her husband saying “what do you need that for” and she comes back with some colanders. Nothing funny there right? Wrong When asked by Karls father why she bought them when she already has some she replies “They have holes in”. This basically sets the humour tone almost straight away, with silly but yet sharp points made with a barb-like sharpness.
So onto the holidaying, which almost always reads like a perpetual nightmare, turning what should be sun, sea and sand into tales of woe, and poo lots of poo. One of the best stories he tells is staying in a villa of a work colleague with a friend, to find not only a terrible stench but a toilet blocked with thick and solid turd that effectively resulted in the toilet being out of service for several days of their holiday. The holidays ranging from holidays with his girlfriend and her brother in America, to family holiday’s as a child in Porthmadog to a school trip camping in the lake district that I especially enjoyed having lived there almost all my life.
Although this does take the “holiday guide” genre and does that little special thing of flipping it on it’s head… and dropping it violently from a great height, taking the dizzy remains and going with it in a warped and almost reversed guide of holidays. Though despite how poor the holidays regularly seem there are parts he seems to enjoy (Seymours in the US which everyone else seemed to hate sticks out) and there’s other parts that just seem to be about poo (“Dog poop hill” being a memorable section of one of his US trips. Others however seemed more painful than anything else, the title of the book coming from being attacked by a jellyfish in the sea as just one of a few examples of poor Karl in pain.
Added to the written work of the holidays there are some other little points of interest, such as the obligatory photographs of the holidays (including the aforementioned dog poo hill). Poems about the places he visited including the clever short on Rome, which he describes as looking like it’s still ancient:
“Rome wasn’t built in a day
It just looks that way” (copied from the book)
As well as some cartoons drawn by Karl about weird stuff, something he says he has an interest in, explaining why he liked Seymours. These are obviously a bit, well…weird to be honest.
Overall the book is a really easy read that has an addictive “can’t put it down” quality that will appeal to almost anyone who will quickly find themselves blazing through it from cover to cover with a smile on their face, the regular laugh out loud moments and the completely childish enjoyment in a book that many of us haven’t had in a long time. The humour is compellingly simple and easy whilst the writing is also a pleasure to read, however some of the language is a bit naughty (dog poop hill isn’t quite known as that in the book…) so may be better in the hands of the older teens and above. In fact my mums currently stolen my book and is reading it in bed and openly admitting she’s enjoying it almost as much as I did. The quirky take on a genre I’m not a fan of will have even the most ardent of none readers chuckling with the flipped idea of a “travel guide” that effectively tells us not to bother with holidays as their all bad.
The only off putting part could be the price which is currently around £9-10 for a new version, however I managed to pick it up for around £2.50 from a charity shop and it can be bought second hand for this sort of price from places like Amazon Marketplace. For anything less than £5 this is amazing value for money, at around £10 your pushing it to say it’s value, so do shop around for a bargain as it’s easy enough to buy second hand and to really enjoy.