Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell

(hb; 2002: non-fiction)

From the inside flap:

". . . [Sarah] Vowell. . .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."


This is an earlier, slightly better book than Vowell's Assassination Vacation.

Partly, shorter, more focalized and laugh-out-loud funny, is darkly snarky like Assassination Vacation. Its emotionally-resonant, logical points about why she feels the way she does, again, are often dead-on with constantly-hilarious asides.

Stand-out chapters: "The First Thanksgiving"; "God Will Give You Blood to Drink in a Souvenir Shot Glass"; "The New German Cinema"; "The Nerd Voice"; "Tom Cruise Makes Me Nervous"; "Cowboys v. Mounties"; "The Partly Cloudy Patriot".

Partly is worth your time, this, if your humor runs dark, sardonic and politically liberal.

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