Book Report: The Indiana Jones Handbook

“Before you set out to recover the unrecoverable, get your facts in order,” advises newly published The Indiana Jones Handbook: The Complete Adventurer’s Guide (Quirk Books, 2008). “You may not have time to learn an obscure language such as Hovitos, but you can at least hire a guide who is fluent.”

Such pearls of wisdom abound in the mock how-to book, authored locally by Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese. And, on the eve of the return of Indiana Jones to the big screen (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opens in Asheville this week) it’s likely that archeologist-turned-adventurer tips will be well-received. After all, it has been nearly two decades since the larger-than-life searcher of treasure and battler of evil (made manifest by Harrison Ford) has wowed audiences with his bull- whip technique.

Speaking of, the book’s first chapter includes instructions on just that. “Remember that the whip can fling dirt and debris far and fast — roughly 700 miles (or 1,125 km) per hour, in fact — so keep that in mind before demonstrating your skills at a family picnic,” the authors warn before launching into illustrated play-by-plays for the “overhead crack,” the “forward crack” and the “whip it up.”

Other helpful hints include, “How to run on top of a moving train,” “How to escape quicksand” (for which you’ll need your trusty bull whip), “How to break free if you are tied up” (step one is to “act indignant”) and “How to escape a zombie curse” (“See if you can establish a personal connection with your zombie friend. Slap his face to see if he ‘snaps’ out of it.”). The great pleasure in each section is the thinly veiled sarcasm due a fictional character who survives poisoning, flies a plane and escapes entombment but never manages to button his shirt.

Handbook is hardly high art, but the cheeky read is well written, tersely funny and very of-the-moment. It makes for a great coffee table conversation piece, the perfect choice to bring on an airplane or to the beach and — need a hoax gift or Father’s Day idea? — here it is.

—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter 

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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