Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Funny and Then Not So Funny

Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World
by Sarah Vowell

I read this because I needed something quick to regain my momentum after Pillar of Fire. I have blogged about Sarah Vowell before - she is a really witty journalist, history buff and essayist who writes on bunch of random topics loosely clustered under the umbrella of American history and culture. One thing I really like about Vowell is her biting humor - she has a way of being slyly sarcastic without being malicious. She also does not separate herself from the weirdness of American culture - she fully acknowledges her participation in and complicity with some of our worst hypocrisies.

Take the Cannoli includes an essay about high school marching band that took me back twenty-odd years to my days as a Marching Maroon from Blackwell High School. She has this hysterical riff about having to put down her baritone horn and run to the sidelines for her mallet solo. Since I was a brass player, and my twin sister played the mallets (but she had to CARRY those things all over the field - still don't know how she did it), what she wrote really hit home. Former Band Birds unite!

On a more serious note, Vowell includes a longer essay about a road trip that she took with her twin sister that retraced the steps of the Trail of Tears (the Vowell sisters are part Cherokee Indian). Even with her wry observations, Vowell managed to capture the tragedy of that part of American history as well as anything else I have ever read about it. She is right when she says that the Trail of Tears will never make sense.

Fun reading, but with bits of wisdom that stick with you, more so than her other book that I have read, The Partly Cloudy Patriot (see November 28, 2007 post).
Reverent Reader


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