Friday, April 22, 2011

Can't Get There From Here by Jeff Tompkins

In this book of more than 50 humor columns and other writings, Jeff Tompkins battles a killer spider, has a medical professional assault his eyeballs, identifies the oddest job in the world, searches for a place to live and offers some suggestions to make spelling bees more exciting.

Go inside a giant fiberglass hot dog on wheels, as Jeff describes his ride in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

Readers will find out what happens when you Google yourself too much, how to avoid being helped by a disgusting deli employee and why you shouldn’t bring a frozen mouse to work.

This book also contains a number of classified C.I.A. documents. That number is: zero.

Steve Martin says, “This is the funniest collection of humor pieces I’ve read in a long time.” (Legal disclaimer: Not the famous Steve Martin. This is the Steve Martin who lives down the street from the author and was not paid very much to say that.)

I'm from Charleston, South Carolina, where I enjoy writing and not boating or golfing or anything like that.

What will readers like about your book?
Hopefully they'll find something in there that makes them laugh. They'll like the price; it's only 99 cents. I've been told that the book also cures a disease called Rigatosis, but this has not yet been approved by the FDA.

Why did you self publish?
I wrote for various publications for years and built up a collection of humor/satire columns that basically were just sitting on my hard-drive. I decided to put some of them together in a collection and self-publish it so I could make a few million dollars a month and become famous. I try to keep my goals realistic like that.

What is your writing process?
When I was writing these humor columns, the writing process mostly took place in my head, where I'd try to come up with a unique and bizarre take on things. Were it not for medication, these columns would probably be even funnier. Now I'm writing fiction (I'll have a mystery novel set in Charleston, SC, out this summer) and my process has drastically changed. Moving from whimsical and satirical writing to somewhat more serious writing was challenging at first, but I found a way to combine the two and I'm having a blast.


Right now you are probably sitting around thinking: Is there anything worse than finding out that your air conditioner isn’t working in the middle of winter? Of course there is. Why would you even ask? But while we’re on the subject, I might as well go ahead and tell you that I discovered, just after Christmas, that my AC wasn’t working. I guess it’s better that I find out at this time of the year, rather than in the summer when, here in Charleston, SC, the temperature often approaches 170 degrees. And that’s the low.

I would have tried to fix it myself, but I am not familiar with heating and cooling units. Plus, I’m not even sure where it is. Or, for that matter, what it is. The only thing I’m familiar with is the thermostat. I decide what setting to put it on by moving a little lever or switch or something, then there’s a clicking noise and the air gets warmer or cooler. Being mechanically disadvantaged, I have no idea how this works, but I’m going with magic because it’s a concept that is easier to grasp.

Anyway, I called the guy to come fix it. This is a guy who I have personally witnessed repairing complicated things such as the back of a broken refrigerator using only a pair of tweezers and a quarter-inch snippet of electrical tape. And if you have ever taken a long look at the back of a refrigerator, you know how complex those things are and also you were looking at the wrong side because the door is on the front. Another time the stove wasn’t working and he fixed it using a different method, which he explained as to me like this: “It came unplugged. I plugged it back in for you.”

My point is that this guy is very good at what he does. So I was relieved when he showed up carrying a toolbox the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, containing more tools than they probably have in the entire U.S. Navy fleet. He’s not a very big guy, but he carried that toolbox with great confidence. I get the feeling he probably takes it with him to bars to impress the ladies. Whatever works.



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