in the UK
Nothing is quite what you expect in the quirky world of Ken Hoffman. He's a nationally syndicated restaurant critic -- but his specialty is drive-through burgers and fries. When he makes a grand tour of Europe, he does ten cities in ten days, no hotels. Instead, he sleeps on overnight trains and tosses his socks and underwear in the trash. And the sights he chooses to see? The world's, respectively: skinniest house, only serious museum of erotica (in Copenhagen), largest flea market (in Warsaw). Hoffman is attracted by the bizarre, the outlandish, and the fattening.
Sports are a forte. Bjorn Borg came to town with the tennis Legends, and Hoffman took him on. Won one point, a clean forehand passing shot. The Harlem Globetrotters made their annual visit and there was Hoffman going 0 for 3 with the opposition Generals (but nobody de-pantsed him). He's even tried pro wrestling, although how that ended he can't quite remember. (He was carried out on a stretcher.)
But his subjects aren't confined to food, sports, and travel. There's pop music, too. (He is a major collector of Beatles memorabilia.) And more domestic subjects, like his dog's intelligence quotient; or the day he visited a nudist resort; or his adventures with in comercials.
One touching column pays tribute to the world's greatest Neil Diamond fan. Another tells of a man whose wife lost her wedding ring in a port-o-potty. Hoffman calls it, "a love story for Valentine's Day."
In a more serious vein, he writes candidly about infertility and how he eventually adopted a baby.
Hoffman's style is colloquial, coaxing humor out of surprising juxtapositions and references to icons of pop culture. Whether he's watching Seinfeldreruns or visiting the weirdest bar in Kenya, he remains clearly one of us -- with a skewed and highly entertaining view of American life at the turn of the millennium. And you can rely on his taste for cheeseburgers.
Winedale Publishing, U.S.
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