The Moaning of Life is the latest book by everyone’s favorite Idiot Abroad, Karl Pilkington. First, I have to point out that the title continues to make me laugh no matter how many times I see it. Combined with the excellent picture of Karl’s expression, the book’s cover is pure genius.
Karl Pilkington is a friend of the British comedian Ricky Gervais’ who became famous in his own right after Gervais’ dragged Karl, I suspect unwillingly, into to some of his projects. Karl’s pessimistic travel show, An Idiot Abroad, is probably his most well known work. The show, and much of The Moaning of Life, features a reluctant Pilkington as he travels the world and manages to find fault with everything that he discovers along the way.
The Moaning of Life is structured into different chapters based around some of life’s most important events and concepts including marriage, happiness, and death. Karl, with his characteristically dry and at least partially serious style, manages to convey his musinga on these topics as he simultaneously recounts many of his travel stories. The chapters feature conversations between Karl and the natives of exotic lands, as well as semi-applicable and interesting facts that Karl learned during the course of writing the book.
It is difficult to put Karl’s allure into words, and I think that he is simply someone who needs to be experienced to be understood. One example is when Karl claims that the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, is a complete waste of effort because it was built to house a dead body. In the face of some of the world’s most beautiful places and enlightening situations, Karl will manages to remain completely unimpressed. He would much rather be at home fixing his boiler (which always seems to be broken) than attending a fertility ceremony in Japan.
I recommend The Moaning of Life to anyone who enjoys dry British humor. It is highly possible that Karl Pilkington takes a lot of what he writes seriously, so the humor can be quite nuanced at times. Karl is the type of person who can come up with an idea that is both idiotic and brilliant at the same time. Ultimately, Karl’s personality, as well as his ability to translate it to the written page, is the true genius behind The Moaning of Life.