17 April 2014

Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman

A bit of background: I actually had no idea this book existed until I won it at a White Elephant gift exchange this past Christmas.

I have enjoyed Nick Offerman’s work on Parks and Recreation ever since the series began airing - indeed, he might be my favorite character.  He is quite simply one of the most quotable characters I have ever encountered, and Offerman’s delivery is perfect.  I even have a Swanson Pyramid of Greatness above my desk at work to help me achieve maximum success.

Even so, I hadn’t caught very much of Offerman’s work in any other series or films.  I recall seeing him here and there, but none of the roles were as remarkable as Ron Swanson.

I went in to Paddle Your Own Canoe expecting a fair dose of Swanson-ness in it, and I was not disappointed.  It seems the writers of Parks and Recreation must have borrowed some of Offerman’s traits in writing his character.  However, he reveals much more depth in his book.

Part memoir and part comedy, I suppose, Paddle was a fun read, though not necessarily engrossing.  That’s okay - I very rarely get engrossed in non-fiction.  Though it was not engrossing, it was definitely engaging, and I laughed aloud in many parts.

One of the most delightful elements of Paddle is Offerman’s vernacular - he has a unique voice, well beyond that employed by Ron Swanson (though similar in delivery), and his ways of turning phrases continued to surprise and please me.  He’s led an interesting life, full of ups and downs, lessons learned, battles won and lost, and he seemed unafraid of sharing that with his readers.

He’s particularly enthusiastic about his wife, actress Megan Mullally (most famous for Will and Grace, but most famous to me for playing Tammy 2, Ron Swanson’s second (and third)  ex-wife, on Parks and Recreation).  He waxes both poetic and, at times, slightly vulgar about her, which is somehow endearing.  Clearly he’s still crazy about her.

So what is the book about?  I’m not so sure, really.  I don’t know that it presented a central thesis - certainly not one I could understand.  It seemed to be more a collection of Mr. Offerman’s musings on the good life.  He has a lot to offer in that department - the feeling of accomplishment that comes from creating things with your own hands, the splendor of nature, the value of family.  He’s surprisingly down-to-earth, as well, which becomes much less surprising after learning that he was raised in the Midwest.


I enjoyed Paddle Your Own Canoe.  As memoirs go, it was enlightening and entertaining; and as comedy goes, it’s a riot.

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Books: Still on Why Buildings Fall Down.  Getting close to finishing.  Nothing else is in from the library yet; I'm waiting on Love Letters to the Dead, The Death Cure, The Silkworm, and Red Planet. No idea when those will happen.  I will probably go through some more Echoes of All Our Conversations while waiting, will which actually be good.

Bottles: I pick up two more tonight.  In addition, I get to do a tasting with Anne Dashe of Dashe Cellars!

Writing: Chapter three of typing in my edits.  Had an epiphany about a scene that had been troubling me.  I think it will work MUCH better now.

Guitar: "Comfortably Numb" still.