USA Today: P.J. O'Rourke goes from 'Hell' to 'Heck' for a holiday

December 8th, 2011

USA Today
December 8th, 2011
By Brian Braiker

In 1988, political satirist P.J. O’Rourke published his travelogue Holidays in Hell, a collection of essays that recount fun-finding missions to some of the worst places on Earth: including Warsaw, Managua and Belfast. Now he’s back, on supposedly cushier ground, with Holidays in Heck (Atlantic Monthly Press, $24), a collection of essays that recount fun-finding missions with his family to such places as Ohio, Hong Kong and Disneyland.

“I was too old to be scared stiff and too stiff to sleep on the ground,” O’Rourke, 64, writes, explaining why he traded in being a war correspondent — after his editor, the Atlantic’s Michael Kelly, was killed in Iraq in 2003 — to spend more time (on the road and off) with his wife and three small children (now ages 14, 11 and 7) O’Rourke spoke with USA TODAY.

Q. You’ve taken some interesting trips with your kids. Any tips for parents?

A. The sooner the better. It gets them used to it. When they’re infants you can take them anywhere. They may get bored, they may get restless. But they’re with the program; they look up to their parents. Once they hit 12 or 13 and have their own agenda, they lose it as travel companions. All of a sudden they go from being a small, slightly annoying friends, then it’s like traveling during a bad marriage.

Q. You actually make skiing in Ohio sound fun here.

A. It was enormous fun! Basically nobody but me had any interest in skiing anything more difficult than what we found in Ohio. Plus Ohio is full of Ohioans, which is certainly a huge improvement over anything that Aspen is full of.

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