Thursday, December 18, 2014

Armageddon is kind of a lot to lay on a six-year-old

Last year Alice introduced me to Sarah Vowell's stuff by sending me a copy of The Wordy Shipmates. That was nice of her. Later that year I saw a copy of Assassination Vacation on sale so I picked that up. Then earlier this year I was looking for some other book. I don't remember this one because I am WAY behind on reviews. But I know I was looking in the humor section and the book I wanted wasn't there. But another discounted Sarah Vowell book was! This time I read Take The Cannoli: Stories from the New World

Unlike the other 2 books, the focus of Take The Cannoli isn't historical. At least, not entirely, though of course there is a little of that. This is a collection of autobiographical essays where she covers things like her obsession with The Godfather when she was in college, or when she tried to look more intimidating and decided to get a goth makeover, or when she talks about her vacation following the trail of tears (because there's gotta be some history).

There isn't really a unifying theme to the essays. Other than they are about her in one way or another. Which doesn't bother me because I have a short attention span and that little bit of unification is all I need. And besides that, the essays are funny. Vowell is funny and while I can't say I learned anything, like I did with her other two books, I can say I enjoyed this one a lot. What can I say, I like self-deprecation, like when she talks about she and classmate used to each write music, though of very different styles. And qualities. Her philosophy behind her pieces was "Why not just have every instrument in an ensemble play every kind of note grouping simultaneously? That way, you could make even the sappiest string section sound almost as good as a hair dryer." Meanwhile, her musical nemesis used to write pop-friendly tunes to the delight of the female students. Except for Sarah, of course.
Pishposh, I thought, alone in my two-by-three soundproof practice module that was more than roomy enough to accommodate my admirers. I was convinced that real artists were the kind that nobody understood, much less liked, which was pretty reassuring since nobody liked me. Or my music.
See, teenage pain is hilarious.

She talks, in bits and pieces, about her love of America, while still being upset with it. She talks about hearing the Rodney King verdict while studying abroad in Holland and trying to defend herself and the US to her friend (a local) who said to her "Of course you're not going back there." As I mentioned above, she talks about traveling the trail of tears with her sister, which is not exactly a barrel of laughs (A historical tragedy and five fourteen-hour days behind the wheel? Who could pass that up?)

If you like Vowell, you should read this one. If you haven't tried Vowell, this isn't a bad place to start. It's easier to get into than, say Wordy Shipmates (WHICH IS STILL VERY GOOD, ALICE, but let's face it, if the puritans aren't your jam, might be a bit slow at times) and gives you a good sense of her style, while being entertaining, if a bit light. I can't say a lot of these essays stuck with me. Except maybe the goth one, where I have actually quoted that the rule that you have to stay out at the club at least as long as it took you to get ready. IMPORTANT LESSONS.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 37

Vowell, Sarah. Take The Cannoli: Stories from the New World. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2000.