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The Old Man and the Swamp: A True Story About My Weird Dad, a Bunch of Snakes, and One Ridiculous Road Trip
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The Old Man and the Swamp: A True Story About My Weird Dad, a Bunch of Snakes, and One Ridiculous Road Trip

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  101 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
I have nothing against snakes, provided that they’re hundreds of miles away from me. And I have nothing against my dad, given the same set of conditions.

In a fit of questionable judgment, consummate indoorsman John Sellers tags along on a journey to search for snakes with his eccentric, aging father—an obsessive fan of Bob Dylan, a giver of terrible gifts, a drinker of b
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Simon & Schuster
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(showing 1-29 of 250)
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Robert Kroese
May 08, 2011 Robert Kroese rated it it was amazing
I knew John Sellers in junior high and high school. Well, I thought I knew him. I also coincidentally knew his dad a little, when we both worked the same dead-end office job in Grand Rapids. It turns out that I didn't really know his dad at all, and I didn't know John (AKA "Sellers") as well as I thought.

The thing I could never figure out about Sellers was why he was so obsessed with fitting in, despite the fact that he was obviously a smart and imaginative individual who hardly needed the appr
Aug 02, 2012 Snotchocheez rated it liked it

John Sellers' autobiography The Old Man and the Swamp started out incredibly poignant and funny (reminiscent of David Sedaris' best stories, if Sedaris was straight, and a video-gaming couch potato). When Sellers keeps his focus on the shenanigans and non-parent-like foibles of his box-wine-swilling, Dylan-quoting, nature-espousing, ophidophilic (snake loving) father, it rings true and straddles a precarious balance of a son's simultaneous irritation and admiration for his paternal unit. About
May 25, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it
I can't stand snakes at all. I almost didn't enter this giveaway because of the cover but it looked just too darn funny to skip it! I can't wait to read it! I hope the cover is more of a cartoon cause if it's a real snake it'll creep me out. lol

As a resident of Southwest Michigan, I could have gone the REST of my life withOUT confirmation that the Michigan Rattler DOES exhist! And not only do I live in SW MI, we have a SWAMP on our property! I'm never leaving the house again!!! EVER!

As I read th
pretty fluffy piece on author sellers trying to reconnect with his dad after divorce and frankly messed up childhood. the author became "famous" for his autobio/rock music book Perfect from Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life but in this swamp book he comes off to me and a rather lazy, very snivelly, not very curious son who comes back to michigan (from brooklyn) to be with his dad as his dad is getting in bad health. the snakes in question are copperbellies from upper midwest usa and threatene ...more
May 21, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
John Seller's snake obsessed father is a man so singular in the kingdom of quirkdom that I'm surprised he managed to live seventy years before someone wrote a book about him.

Most memoirs involve at least one very strange relative who in that cloying self referential way begs the reader to rescue him or her from themselves. This isn't one of those books, we are not asked to pity or even like John's father (I did like him, even so.) If you're waiting for that maudlin moment when we are asked to
Karen B.
May 27, 2011 Karen B. rated it really liked it
This book was a Goodreads first read.

John Sellers, a man who describes himself as a "furniture potato" decides to accompany his father on a trip to the swamp to look for copperbelly snakes. Towards the end of the book he explains his motive as simply to get to understand his father, an eccentric, chain-smoking, holdover from the 60's. As their trip begins John recalls incidents from his youth that point out many of the disappointments in his father. Coming from a fairly well-to-do family, John's
Jun 09, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways, funny
ARC received through the Goodreads First Reads program.

I looked forward to reading The Old Man and the Swamp by John Sellers because I knew it was going to be funny. Oh boy, it was--in the wonderfully surreal way only a true story can be. The "True Story About My Weird Dad" subtitle doesn't begin to cover it. THe book isn't so much about the road trip Sellers takes with his father. The bits that cover the trip would only take up a few pages if they were all strung together. Instead, what we get
May 22, 2011 Naomi rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, 2011
I'd like to give it three-and-a-half stars: I liked it but I didn't love it, and not sure I would recommend it. I must temper my review with the knowledge that I have an advance copy and there are still mistakes, of which I found a few, which I find fun in it's own right. No, I think I had trouble with the book because I thought it was going to be about a road trip, and so at first I found the digressions slow and distracting. The third chapter was especially slow and convoluted, and I put the b ...more
Aug 30, 2011 Lindsay rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ben
*Disclosure - I received a copy of this book for free from Goodreads First-Reads.*

I kept putting this one off because in between the time I entered the giveaway and the time I was notified that I won, events occurred such that I didn’t really feel up to reading about a guy reconnecting with his father at a time when his father’s health is declining. I really needn’t have worried. Sellers’ relationship with his dad is absolutely nothing like my relationship with my dad (As a daughter, I am grate
Dustin Reade
May 23, 2011 Dustin Reade rated it really liked it
I won this book in a giveaway, and I read it in roughly two days. All I really have to say is, I want to spend time with this guy's dad. He sounds awesome. The book itself is very well written, the characters are well defined, and the story is simple but great. I laughed out loud at least once for every page read, and finisehd the book with a smile on my face. Maybe it's not the most hard-hitting novel I have ever read, or even one of the best. But that doesn't matter. Not every book is going to ...more
Sep 25, 2016 Rick marked it as couldnt-get-into-it
I read up to the point where he arrived back in Michigan to start the road trip, but just couldn't get past the constant dad-bashing. Granted, his childhood sounded pretty fucked up, but that's what therapists are for...
Feb 11, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
A fine, funny little book. Sellers pulls off a pretty difficult trick, showing his fathers many eccentricities, making them funny, but without ever resorting to out and out mockery. The final third was quick affecting, and I snorted a few times at Sellers' descriptions of things he'd rather be doing then spending time outdoors.
Nov 03, 2011 Alisa rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alisa by:
Won this on First Reads Giveaway.. looking forward to reading it

This was a great book about a man and his father connecting during a trip. Not only is Sellers a good writer and funny as hell, his father is hilarious as well. All in all, this a heartfelt story about a man and his father trying to connect on an even playing ground and spending the type of quality time together that most of us wish we could.

I really liked this and have recommended it to others.
Jun 17, 2011 Andrea rated it it was ok
Bummer : ( I chose this as my book club pick so I won't spout off my opinion too much. My big issue with this book was how negative the writer was about his father. Clearly his father wasn't perfect, neither is mine, or any other father I'm aware of. But his father loved him and made it clear that he loved him. I work with many kids whose father has nothing to do with them. I think John Sellers needs to give his dad a break.
Dec 27, 2013 Gail rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book since it featured MI where the author grew up. However, it was overly focused on the author's total aversion to the outdoors (mostly he's a big crybaby) with too many boring details of his childhood. If it were subjected to good editing, it could have been a decent short story of 25 pages.
Jun 08, 2011 Kyla rated it liked it
All in all it was an alright book, but I was expecting a lot more hilarity regarding his relationship with his dad, and a little less snake talk. Throughout the book he starts out on one story, and then shoots off on all these random tangents, finally coming back to the story he started with, and by the time you get there you can't really remember what the main story started out like.
Jun 15, 2012 Suzanne rated it really liked it
John Sellers is a very funny writer. That's what made this book worth reading. If you are interested in swamps or snakes, well, there's not really a great deal here about that, so you might feel a little cheated. But if you like reading about odd, somewhat dysfunctional families or video games in the 70s and 80s, you might like this. I did.
Apr 27, 2011 Klee rated it it was amazing
If the go-to Father's Day book last year was "Sh*t My Dad Says," this year it is "The Old Man and the Swamp" by a country mile. Those gift books that get left around dustry? This won't be one of them, chances are you'll pass it on to more than one person. As my dad would say, it was a "hoot and a holler."
Nov 08, 2014 Colleen rated it liked it
Shelves: science-nature
Agree with some of the other reviewers that the narrator's tendency to whine, while part of the story, could get a little annoying at times. A sometimes funny and often sad book about the expectations we have of our parents and our inability to let things go
Jun 26, 2012 Shorewalker rated it really liked it
I didn't find this book as "funny" as the review in Mother Jones (that lead me be purchase and read) said it was. However, I did find the introspection of the father-son relationship interesting; sometimes - like it or not - we become our fathers.
Aug 09, 2014 Cory rated it really liked it
This is one of those books where not a whole lot of stuff happens--there's a lot of inner dialogue and memories. However, it made me laugh a few times and it took place in Hillsdale County (where I used to live) and I just enjoyed it.
Shannon Baas
Aug 26, 2013 Shannon Baas rated it liked it
This is a true story about the author, his growing up with his dad, who was a herpatologist, and them going on another snake finding mission. It was interesting but not something I would necessarily recommend.
Dec 11, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
Very entertaining, especially to those of us who grew up in the 80s and/or had a difficult (crazy?) father. Even made me feel some empathy with snakes and vow to protect them when necessary! Recommended.
Jun 03, 2011 Theresa rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
It was more about reconnecting with a dysfunctional Dad.... than a humorous road trip with father and son.I was a bit disappointed.
May 23, 2011 Troy rated it really liked it
Another solid memoir from GR guy Sellers. Poignant and funny by equal turns and full of rich Michigan detail.
Robin Templin
Apr 23, 2013 Robin Templin rated it really liked it
Very funny and endearing. A fantastic true story about a father and son. I want to read more by this author.
Feb 10, 2012 Ben rated it liked it
An easy, amusing read. Liked it.
Kara Scranton
Jan 16, 2013 Kara Scranton rated it it was amazing
Very funny; I worked with his mom.
*book*lover* rated it it was amazing
Aug 20, 2016
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John Sellers is the author of The Old Man and the Swamp (2011), Perfect From Now On (2007) and Arcade Fever (2001). He writes about television for The Wrap and interviews musicians for Spin magazine. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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