"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

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Summary: A history enthusiast revisits sites relating to presidential assassinations.

It saddens me when people make history boring. History is fascinating but, told in the wrong way, can totally turn people off. I enjoyed Take the Cannoli, but was terribly disappointed in this travel monologue.
"I embarked on the project of touring historical sites and monuments having to do with the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley right around the time my country iffily went to war, which is to say right around the time my resentment of the current president cranked up into contempt. Not that I want the current president killed. Like that director, I will, for the record (and for the FBI agent assigned to read this and make sure I mean no harm-hello there), clearly state that while I am obsessed with death, I am against it."
This is the funniest line of the book and you have to read carefully to get the rest of the humor in the book. It's the kind of humor that NPR is known for, and why Nascar fans rarely listen to NPR, as the author makes fun of southern cooking and themes with the hubris of an East Coast elite education.

What disturbs me most about this book is that if I hadn't gotten married, I likely would be Sarah Vowell. The over-eager aunt giving inappropriate presents to her nephew and dragging family members and friends to historical sites that bear only the slimmest connection to assassinated presidents.

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