This is my favorite thing John Green has written. I loved it so much I let it start getting me behind in reviews again. I kind of hope he never goes back to writing fiction. (In fact, in the introduction to this book he expresses the sentiment that he might not! I don’t have the book with me right now to reference, but he talks briefly about his frustration with readers confusing him with his characters, and how more and more writing fiction feels like lying to him, and he’s more and more drawn to the pleasures of nonfiction — again, this is all from memory, it sounded way better in the book.) My favorite stuff of his has never been his fiction, but his podcast with his brother, and his YT videos.
Anyway, the conceit here is that he reviews different things from the Anthropocene, our current geologic (human-centered) age. He does so on a five star scale, in part to poke fun at the idea of the five star rating system. It’s based on his podcast of the same name, which I’ve only listened to once. I much prefer it in book form. Some of the essays here were updated podcast episodes but many were new. I enjoyed all of them.
This book does my favorite thing which is to combine tones and genres. It’s funny and sad and silly and heartfelt. It talks about tiny unimportant things and big scale things. It’s part memoir, part humor, part satire, part history. It’s a very vulnerable book, and a mischievous one. And the range of things he reviews is appealing on its own. Some from memory: “Auld Lang Syne,” The World’s Biggest Ball of Paint, Velociraptors, Kentucky Bluegrass, Googling Strangers, a hot dog stand in Iceland, Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest (two hot dog essays! John, what’s up?), Plague, CNN, Diet Dr. Pepper, and Jerzy Dudek’s famous save. I will be reading it again, and I hope he publishes The Anthropocene Reviewed, Part Two some day.
I give The Anthropocene Reviewed five stars.
CBR BINGO: Shelfie (it felt fitting to choose this book, since I used his brother Hank’s newest book for this square last year)
– – –