In the title piece of this collection of personal stories, Sarah Vowell addresses her ambivalent relationship to American history and citizenship. Elsewhere, she confronts a wide range of subjects, themes, icons and historical moments: Vietnam and Watergate; Canadian Mounties and German filmmakers; Starbucks and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; twins and ...
In the title piece of this collection of personal stories, Sarah Vowell addresses her ambivalent relationship to American history and citizenship. Elsewhere, she confronts a wide range of subjects, themes, icons and historical moments: Vietnam and Watergate; Canadian Mounties and German filmmakers; Starbucks and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; twins and nerds; the Gettysburg Address; and George W. Bush's inauguration. A book about politics, presidents, pop culture, patriotism and pretty much everything else that matters in the world today, "The Partly Cloudy Patriot" is a refreshing, thought-provoking guide to the crazy heart of America.
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Publishers Weekly, 2004-01-26 Few narrators could sound complimentary when calling Al Gore a "big honking nerd," but Vowell (Take the Cannoli), a self-proclaimed nerd, succeeds in doing just that while reading her collection of thoughtful, humorous essays on politics, patriotism and Tom Cruise (among other topics). Vowell's thin, reedy voice and halting delivery take some getting used to, but she settles into a comfortable groove by the end of the first tape, when she relates what she's learned from visiting places like Gettysburg and Witch City (otherwise known as Salem): no matter what your troubles are, "it could be worse." This is followed by an upbeat tune by They Might Be Giants, who composed the music for this audio. It's hard to resist a catchy, comical verse like, "You asked for baked potato/and they gave you fries/but that's not as sad now/is it/as the day the music died," but it's even more difficult to resist Vowell's obvious passion for history, for Al Gore and for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The full plate of special guests-including Conan O'Brien, Stephen Colbert and Michael Chabon-make token contributions: Colbert does an admirable impersonation of Gore and the oddly chosen O'Brien attempts to fill Abraham Lincoln's shoes. In the end, however, it is Vowell's self-deprecating wit and earnest delivery that will win over listeners. Based on the S&S hardcover (Forecasts, June 24, 2002). (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-06-24 Looking for insight into why she prefers Little Bighorn and Gettysburg to Martha's Vineyard, Vowell (author of the witty Take the Cannoli) calls her friend Kate, who works as a counselor for survivors of torture, who says, "That's how we try to make sense of the worst horrors. We use humor to manage anxiety." If Kate's right, then Vowell is managing her anxiety very well. Her best short, personal essays (anywhere from about two to 12 pages) focus on her ambivalent relationship to American history and citizenship: no one in recent memory has been as insightful on the direct pleasures and perils of voting, the misuse of Rosa Parks as a metaphor, the appeal of Canadians (who "ha[ve] this weird knack for loving their country in public without resorting to swagger or hate") and the relative merits of presidential libraries. Further undone, perhaps, by her devotion to such topics, Vowell also offers an eloquent defense of being a nerd: "Going too far and caring too much about a subject is the best way to make friends that I know." To wit, her hilarious essay "The Nerd Voice," which chronicles her political e-mail group as "the all-time nerdiest thing I've ever been involved in, and I say that as a person who has been involved with public radio and marching band." Even in the essays on pop culture, like "The New German Cinema" and "Tom Cruise Makes Me Nervous," Vowell, like David Sedaris, goes too far, cares too much and remains a very anxious and extremely funny citizen and shady patriot. (Sept. 5) Forecast: Along with Cannoli and Radio On: A Listener's Diary, Vowell has a built-in fan base from her frequent appearances on public radio's This American Life. The political tinge to these essays should tap into latent feelings about civil liberties. Look for excellent coverage, and a 10-city tour to boost sales. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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