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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

About The Book

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 boxed wine, a minister- turned-heretic, and, most importantly, the self-designated guardian of the threatened copperbelly water snake.

The quest is their fumbling attempt to reconnect. Decades of bitterness, substance abuse, acrimonious divorce, and divergent opinions about personal hygiene have conspired to make the two estranged. Sellers has just begun to develop a new appreciation for the American wilderness, and all the slithering creatures that populate it, when his father’s deteriorating health thwarts their mission and disturbs their tentative peace. Determined to finish what they started, he ventures back into the swamp— alone, but more connected to his dad than ever. With big-hearted humor and irreverence, The Old Man and the Swamp tells the story of a father who always lived on his own terms and the son who struggled to make sense of it all.

About The Author

Photography by Nina Subin

John Sellers is the author of Perfect From Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life and has written for GQ, The Believer, The Atlantic, and The New York Times, among many other publications. Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, he currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. For more information, visit

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 3, 2011)
  • Length: 208 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416592464

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Raves and Reviews

“I want to ride in a car with John Sellers and his father. This book is honest, hilarious, and always interesting. Sellers is a fantastic writer. He's not just some douche who got famous from a Twitter page.”—Justin Halpern, author of Sh*t My Dad Says

“John Sellers is an exceptionally funny writer. And I’m not just saying that because he knows how to use a shotgun.”—A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically

"I was driving in a truck with my buddy, and he picks up this book from the floorboards and right away he starts laughing. Like within seconds. And then he reads me a couple lines and I start laughing too. But John Sellers' The Old Man and the Swamp has more than just humor going for it. It offers some amazing insights into the most inspiring and aggravating man that any of us will ever meet: our dad.”—Steven Rinella, author of American Buffalo and host of Travel Channel’s “The Wild Within”

"Fast and easy--just the way I like my books." --Chris Elliott, author of The Shroud of the Thwacker and Into Hot Air

"John Sellers has always been a funny writer, and he is very funny here. But as he travels with his herpetology-obsessed dad -- himself strange as a snake -- his journey twists and turns in surprising, fascinating, and touching ways, with a little hiss of heartbreak thrown in. YES: I am saying that this book is itself like a snake, and it is going to consume you slowly and lovingly, as a snake eats a mouse." -- John Hodgman, author of The Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require

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