Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

August 6th, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation is what would happen if David Sedaris wrote The Devil in the White City.

Now I know that we’re supposed to lump the likes of David Rakoff, Sarah Vowell, and David Sedaris into a category of humor or essays or some other less-than-serious class, but Assassination Vacation is an important book.

And I mean that in the traditional, classic sense. So I’ll say it again. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell is an important book.

AV belongs up on the eye-level shelf or right on the nightstand with all the other tattered, well-read, really good paperbacks like To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, The Great Gatsby, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, etc, etc, et al.

You see, Vowell embarks on an adventure to satisfy a macabre personal fascination with presidential assassinations, but does so with a grace and wit and piercing intellect that reveals an entertainingly enormous amount of relevant US history. Her book is equal parts well written, informative, and funny. While she’ll gently remind us that the dedication of Lincoln’s Memorial in 1922 was segregated, and that our use of the “water cure” during the Spanish-American War predated our current use of “water boarding,” she’ll also describe the McKinley National Memorial in Canton as “a gray granite nipple on a fresh green breast of grass.”

Sarah Vowell should write and edit textbooks. Our schoolchildren would be smarter, and our country a lot better off. And I mean that. Sarah, please edit high school textbooks. You could single handedly eliminate Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

But whether you have ADHD or not, you’ll find Assassination Vacation a damn readable brew of dry humor and understated intelligence that makes important slivers of our country’s history relevant, approachable, understandable, worth knowing, and most of all, entertaining.

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One Response to “Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell”

  1. [...] As one reviewer writes: “… you’ll find Assassination Vacation a damn readable brew of dry humor and understated intelligence that makes important slivers of our country’s history relevant, approachable, understandable, worth knowing, and most of all, entertaining.”  ~  James, the Authwhore [...]

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