Join Nick Offerman in the Special Events Hall today, 2:30 p.m.–3:30 p.m., in an hour of conversation, music, and muckraking as he presents his new book, Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers. He will be interviewed by author/actor/humorist John Hodgman.
An actor, woodworker, and King of the Mustache, Nick Offerman is following up his bestselling book Paddle Your Own Canoe with Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers, an idiosyncratic collection of 21 people who have made Offerman’s personal pantheon of Great Americans.
Offerman admits his editor, Jill Schwartzman, is the one who came up with the idea of a list of great Americans. “I was intrigued, so I started compiling a list. When I had it, I noticed a set of values and characteristics that qualified each initiate. That’s what led me to come up with the all-encompassing theme of gumption. They all have a certain grit, a certain moral and ethical standard I admire.”
Offerman explains that he didn’t try to write biographies, but to point out moments in each one’s life that seemed to him to be the source of the “gumption” that inspires him. This exclusive group ranges from George Washington, Frederick Douglass, and Benjamin Franklin to Yoko Ono, Willie Nelson, and Conan O’Brien. It’s all done, as one would expect from TV’s Parks and Recreation fan fave character, Ron Swanson, in a way that is at once serious and very entertaining, with lots of humor.
“I felt like when I finished the book, I had a created a really complex mixtape for my friends,” he says. “You know, when you meet a group and say, ‘I need to turn you on to these 21 bands, they are going to blow your mind’? That’s what I am going for.”
Offerman will not be performing in quite the way he had hoped during his personal appearance at BookCon. “I was instructed that fireworks were not permitted inside the Jacob Javits Center, so the display will not be as explosive as I desired. We’ll have to fabricate delight and wonderment with our language and facial expressions. There will be an overall patriotic bent to the proceedings and adequate ukulele musicianship,” he says.
And John Hodgman? How did he get pulled in to moderate? “He is someone I greatly admire as one of the most erudite and humorous minds in the world of satire today. It was sort of an arranged marriage through a secret society that we both belong to. We were paired together and are being assessed for promotion to a higher degree in said society,” he says. Since he speaks in that unmistakable stentorian voice, it’s hard to tell if he’s kidding. When prodded further about this secret society, he stonewalls: “I am not at liberty to reveal details, but I can assure you that the society has mankind’s and womankind’s best interests at heart,”
This article appeared in the May 30, 2015 edition of PW BookCon Daily.