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Book Review

‘The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopedia of Existing Information’


Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Barb Palar

Little Brown and Company

Oct. 23, 2012


256 pp

Looking for a holiday gift for a know-it-all who already has everything (and knows everything)? “The Onion” has dug up thousands of facts even the most encyclopedic of your relatives won’t know. The spread on anatomy (with diagrams!), for example, includes a tuxedo-clad skeleton (tuxedal system) along with diagrams of the skeletal system, organs and muscular system.                

If you’re easily offended, this book probably isn’t for you. But if you or that hard-to-buy-for cousin like a little satire in your coffee table books, take a look at this one. Funny, irreverent and even a little bit informative, The Onion delivers once again. “The Onion Book” provides valuable information such as the life stages of an aunt and places to kill yourself in Utica, N.Y. Presented in alphabetical order (using all 27 letters of the alphabet), the “P” page includes puberty and psychosis, while an “F” spread dives into Anne Frank as well as Frankenstein.                

JFK fans will be riveted by this entry: “John F. Kennedy, beloved 35th U.S. president whose heartbreaking assassination made an entire generation of Americans vow only to elect candidates to whom they wouldn’t get too attached.”                

The athletic-minded may want to know this: “Shot put, athletic event in which a heavy, round ball is thrown as far as possible, and the only sport considered less graceful than carrying an air conditioner up seven flights of stairs.”                

The book takes a cheeky tone with cancer, too: “They’re making advancements in cancer treatment all the time, so you have nothing to worry about.” And, pregnancy is described as a method for creating a thing that will die.

Besides being a hoot to thumb through, this is a nicely published book that actually cracks when you open it and includes lots of color photos and diagrams. CV

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