by Tom Bodett
Bodett is the deep-woods version of Garrison Keillor.
But while Keillor’s tales of Lake Wobegon, Minn., are funny, wise and literate, Bodett’s homespun anecdotes about End of the Road, Alaska, never rise above droll. Bodett, a radio humorist, is concerned with fires, feuds, drinking, bowling, holiday dinners—the very stuff of life. It’s likable enough, in a Reader’s Digest sort of way, just not all that interesting. And at its worst, Bodett’s rustic humor is rather stale and dull.
That’s too bad, because the End of the Road would seem to have combustible potential, with a populace made up of equal parts coffee-shop rednecks and New Age hippies. Occasionally, Bodett, who resides in Homer, Alaska, gets off a good observation: “Men share some of their most intimate moments leaning against vehicles with their arms crossed looking at anything but each other.”
Most of the time, his punch lines are pretty predictable. Maybe this flat wit works on the radio, with Bodett’s aw-shucks voice pumping it up for all it’s worth. On the page, it’s about as colorful as a lumberjack’s shirt that has been through the wash cycle a few hundred times. (Morrow, $16.95)