Synopses & Reviews
Sarah Vowell travels through the American past and, in doing so, investigates the dusty, bumpy roads of her own life. In this insightful and funny collection of personal stories Vowell — widely hailed for her inimitable stories on public radio's This American Life
— ponders a number of curious questions: Why is she happiest when visiting the sites of bloody struggles like Salem or Gettysburg? Why do people always inappropriately compare themselves to Rosa Parks? Why is a bad life in sunny California so much worse than a bad life anywhere else? What is it about the Zen of foul shots? and, in the title piece, why must doubt and internal arguments haunt the sleepless nights of the true patriot?
Her essays confront a wide range of subjects, themes, icons, and historical moments: Ike, Teddy Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton; Canadian Mounties and German filmmakers; Tom Cruise and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; twins and nerds; the Gettysburg Address, the State of the Union, and George W. Bush's inauguration.
The result is a teeming and engrossing book, capturing Vowell's memorable wit and her keen social commentary.
"[Vowell's] collection of essays explores patriotism and other aspects of contemporary life from the refreshingly contrarian view of a thoughtfully disaffected, wryly outspoken and deeply passionate citizen." Hartford Courant
"Even though her pieces make us laugh about every fourth line, we feel as if there's something more significant at work....A writer of fierce observational powers who wears her intelligence and wit as comfortably as an old pair of pajamas." San Francisco Chronicle
"Droll, intelligent, and persuasive." Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Sarah Vowell is the author of Take the Cannoli and is a contributing editor for public radio's This American Life. She lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
What He Said There
The First Thanksgiving
Ike Was a Handsome Man
God Will Give You Blood to Drink in a Souvenir Shot Glass
The New German Cinema
Democracy and Things Like That
California as an Island
Dear Dead Congressman
The Nerd Voice
Rosa Parks, C'est Moi
Tom Cruise Makes Me Nervous
Cowboys v. Mounties
The Partly Cloudy Patriot
State of the Union
Tom Landry, Existentialist, Dead at 75
The Strenuous Life