July 26, 2005

Assassination Vacation - What's Your Avocation?

It's book week on peterme.com. Today: Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell. Hipsters know Sarah Vowell from one or more of the following things: rock critic for Salon.com, contributor to radio show This American Life, voice of Violet in The Incredibles.

Sarah, it turns out, has a thing for American history, and, in particular, presidential assassinations. The book chronicles her experience covering the ground of America's three pre-Kennedy murders - Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. She visits historic sites, follows historic paths, and reads a lot of books, and talks to a lot of people. Being Sarah Vowell, she has a wry sense of humor, good at demonstrating the absurdity of situations, or their ironies. A keen appreciator of history, she also often draws connections between the goings-on back then with the goings-on of today, particularly in her discussion of McKinley, who lead America into an unnecessary interventionist war that turned into a bit of a quagmire.

Sarah has written the kind of book I would write if I wrote books. As a teenager, I often wrote up travelogues, typically at my dad's request, where I would attempt to be funny while discussing trip details. It was a kind of writing I enjoy, and I even made some halfhearted attempts to do so on this site (Las Vegas | Burning Man | Austin | occasional blog posts), but such writing, well, any good writing takes time, and travelogues are not where I have chosen to spend that time. So, instead, you get pictures.

Which, after reading Sarah's book, ends up upsetting me. Sarah's combination of history, present-day stories, humor, insight, and irony works, and is, in its way, inspiring. Stacy and I take a lot of road trips, often seeking out historic sites (we prefer intentional communities to assassination places -- utopia is more uplifting, though, inevitably, saddening), and after reading Sarah's book, we're kicking ourselves for not doing more to share our experiences. Maybe this public self-flagellation will get us started.

With that: read the book. I don't know if it's worth the hardcover cost, but it'll definitely be a good paperback read. I've also heard great things about the audiobook, which I see, has a special promotional price of $10 (for first time Audible-through-Amazon buyers), and features guest appearances by Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, and Stephen King, among others.

Oh, and it's clear that Sarah Vowell hates the Current Administration. If that bugs you, you might want to skip the book.

Posted by peterme at 04:55 PM | Comments (1)


See Me Travel
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
Archives from June 13, 2001 to January 2003
Archives from before June 13, 2001
Recent Entries
Assassination Vacation - What's Your Avocation?
Subscribe to my feed:
Powered by
Movable Type 3.2