Audiobook Review: The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information

31 12 2012

The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information

Read by Avery Sandford and June Bunt

Hachette Audio

Length: 3 Hrs 46 Min

Genre: All Knowledge That Exists

Quick Thoughts: If like me, you are looking for the definitive collection of all of the universe’s information in an easy to use, 4 hour long audiobook, in order to impress the ladies, The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information may be a disappointment. The Onion, known for its comprehensive style, vigorous fact checking, and inexpensive newspaper printed on tasty jerky style paper, may just have dropped the ball here. If you are looking for laughs due to the sheer audacity and incompetence of some of the entries, well, you might have something here.

Grade: Incomplete

As a connoisseur of audiobooks I only have about 50-60 hours in any given week for listening purposes, so I must be conscientious of what I stick into my earholes. Because of this, I spend a good portion of every day carefully considering what I will listen to, weighing in my personal preferences, what I feel the reader(s) of my blog would like me to review, and what pretentious titles I can brag about to impress the ladies, just incase I am ever invited to one of those high society parties I occasionally read about in said pretentious titles. So, despite the fact that I almost only read fictional titles, I decided to take a chance at a nonfiction title, The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information, for two reasons. First off, I used to be a total news junky, reading the newspaper, magazines, watching the daily local broadcasts and waiting patiently for the town crier.  Yet, I became disheartened by the unethical behavior of the modern news source, whether it be the political slants of nation news outlets, the influence of prominent local businessmen on the local news, or the vendetta of the local town crier due to one unfortunate case of food poisoning. Then I discovered The Onion who offered news that no one else would carry without the hampering of political slant or adherence to governmental fairness doctrines. The Onion brought me straightforward commentary on the rise of witchcraft among Harry Potter Fans as well as the often misinformed, potentially racist ramblings of the everyman who has the right to have their thoughts shared with the world simply for walking in the general vicinity of an Onion reporter. The second reason I decided on this title is simple, one of my life goals has always been to know everything. I consider myself knowledgeable and well read, yet occasionally, at parties and such, I find someone who knows something that I don’t. This really is unacceptable. If someone knows something, I should know something. I mean, I am not going to get lucky with the ladies based on my looks or charming personality, so all I have left are the facts. I believed that The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information would be just the thing that would give me an edge up with the ladies who don’t judge a potential mate on good looks or charm. Or Money. Or a pleasant singing voice. Well, I digress. Or focus.

I must admit, despite my love for The Onion and desire to be accepted by this fine enterprise as a peer, I came away disappointed with The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information. When I first began, I was so excited that all of the world’s knowledge would be delivered to me in less than 4 hours in audiobook form. Yet, I was surprised that this supposedly Unabridged Version skipped over some very important topics, like The Netherlands, Cheese (Fondue or Not Fondue), Unitarianism, and Flatulence. I also felt many of their entries were less that complete. For instance, the entry on John Wilkes Booth went on and on about his career as an actor and his performances, but never mentioned the most important fact about him, that he appeared this season as a character on the BBC America TV series Copper. This definitive book of Knowledge often broke away from its role as an Encyclopaedia, and offered values judgments, even comparing the assholes of Philadelphia, my home and brothers in assholery, to the assholes in Boston. Any Philadelphia knows we are more akin to Midwestern assholes from cities like Cleveland and Detroit to those jackholes from Boston who can’t pronounce a simple r sound. I also had to look with some levels of skepticism at their claims for the origins of many of the letters. Well, more like boredom. Why didn’t they just shut up about R and get onto the important topics like The Rapture, its date and just how Christian I have to be to actually not get left down here on earth with the losers? Now, there were come excellent moments to the audiobook. Their handling of the Literature entries and giving each of the three categories Fiction, Non-Fiction and Stephen King comprehensive focus was refreshing. Also, their appreciation for the fine work of The America Folk Art Museum was moving. Yet, too many problems just saturated the text. Their tactful attempts to handle religion led to offending people who believe that their religion is the right one and everyone else is doomed to eternal torment in a fiery pit with demons and thusly alienating a key demographic. Also, their obvious distain for other sources of information like Almanacs, dictionaries and informational pamphlets just came off petty. So, if like me, you are looking for the definitive collection of all of the universe’s information in an easy to use, 4 hour long audiobook, in order to impress the ladies, The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information may be a disappointment. The Onion, known for its comprehensive style, vigorous fact checking, and inexpensive newspaper printed on tasty jerky style paper, may just have dropped the ball here. If you are looking for laughs due to the sheer audacity and incompetence of some of the entries, well, you might have something here.

The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information was narrated by two skilled voice artists, Avery Sanford who handled the masculine entries and June Bunt who handled the feminine entries. While they both had strong voices I had mixed feelings about their performances. Avery and June blended a strong matter of fact new style reminiscent of the greats of American broadcasting with whiney douchebaggery. While I can appreciate whiney douchbaggery in a fictional literary title about Trust Fund kids whose parents cut them off after they discover them with an once of weed, or even in a cutting edge nonfiction title about Dallas Cowboy fans who have never even been to Texas, but when reading Encyclopaedia Entries it makes me want to bludgeon them with a baseball bat autographed by Phillies Hall of Fame Third Baseman Mike Schmidt. Yet, despite the fact that they could seem like douchebags, and may have been hopped up on pharmaceuticals, there were also some touching moments, like Avery’s emotional reading of the classic poem “Lonely” to June’s…. well, I’m sure June did something good as well. Overall, I listened to almost four hours of their clapptrappery and by the time I finished my eardrums were not ruptured, and what more can you ask for from two audiobook narrators?

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3 responses

31 12 2012
Laurie C

I wish I had heard about this book sooner! It would have have been a popular item in our family Christmas grab. Sounds like the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, though, for the right special someone.

31 12 2012
Akilah S. Brown

I love this review from the bottom of my heart. Best.

21 05 2013
Ryan McLean

I find it hard to believe that they can squish everything into just 4 hours…very ambitious title and a very ambitious book. I would rather they do one smaller topic well than try and cover everything.

I listen to about 20 hours of audiobooks per week. Give me 20 hours of entertainment!

Thanks for the review, granted to say I won’t be pursuing this book.

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