Figure out what you love to do, then figure out how to get paid to do it.
Paddle Your Own Canoe
By Nick Offerman
Paddle Your Own Canoe features tales from Offerman’s childhood in small-town Minooka, Illinois—“I grew up literally in the middle of a cornfield”—to his theater days in Chicago, beginnings as a carpenter/actor and the hilarious and magnificent seduction of his now-wife Megan Mullally. It also offers hard-bitten battle strategies in the arenas of manliness, love, style, religion, woodworking, and outdoor recreation, among many other savory entrees.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. Really. Honest truth. I’m a fan of Offerman; I’ve seen him perform live, watched him on interviews, and of course, enjoyed his turn as Ron Swanson on Park and Recreation. He seems like a really fun guy who loves his job, his wife, red meat, woodworking, and whiskey (and he writes extensively on all of those things). I imagine having a beer with him and (wife) Megan would be a really swell time.
That right there is part of my issue. I already know too much about Nick Offerman. I’ve heard these stories, and jokes, and rants before. It was nothing new and nothing was really gained. I feel like I took away very little once everything was said and done.
Of course, that is my own failing for knowing too much about the subject, which is why my criticisms are based on that only in part. I was otherwise so-so on the humor, and on the very format itself. The humor factor again is something that could be overlooked- just because you are a comedic actor does not mean your book has to be gut-bustingly hilarious. However, I feel that this book tried to be more amusing, but the format did it a disservice. It can’t really decide what it wants to be- a strict memoir or a collection of essays? It bounces from a linear life story to an aside about the joys of wood working, poems for his wife, or the perversions of government. Some of the cuts are really jarring, especially those at the beginning of the book where Offerman shifts from calm retellings of the antics of his childhood to rants about Christianity and organized religion in general. It is not the subject or argument that I take offense to, but the fact that those rants would fit better either stitched in, integrated better with the actual narrative, or in another book all together. Instead we get two works combined into one that don’t always mesh well.
Paddle Your Own Canoe is not a bad book, it was just an OK book that had the ability to be more with a more focused structure. I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a quick read about breaking into show business, as he does have a lot of interesting tidbits to impart about the scenes in both Chicago and Los Angeles. However, if you’ve already seen his shows or specials, or are decently familiar with his opinions or anecdotes, then you can probably skip this and better focus your time on signing petitions for a million more seasons of Parks and Rec.