Title: The Partly Cloudy Patriot
Author: Sarah Vowell
Number of Pages: 196
Plot Overview: In this send-up of various incidents in American history and her own life, Sarah Vowell discusses everything from Al Gore to the Civil War to Rosa Parks to salad dressing.
Thoughts: Vowell’s voice is inimitable: snarky, nerdy, yet oddly profound. However, she sometimes comes off as a little facetious, and her jokes might fall flat if, say, you didn’t follow the presidential election of 2000 in intense depth or have no idea what the New German Cinema is. Her profundity is often confusing and multifaceted- this is not a book you can pick up and read before you fall asleep. She does have her moments, though, particularly when she mentions her family and personal life. And when she discusses Lincoln, one’s heart might swell a little bit with patriotic pride. You might walk away from this book marginally baffled, but at least you’ll have plenty of new things to say about America’s roster of presidents.
Other Pertinent Information: Sarah Vowell is a frequent contributor to the radio show “This American Life”, on NPR.
Other Reviews: The New York Times, reviewing another Vowell book (Unfamiliar Fishes), said of Vowell, “Sometimes I loved the disruptive student in class who livened up lectures with wisecracks — it put a spin on things, added flavor, made me laugh. Other times I wished the heckler would just shut up so I could learn something.” (New York Times). This was truly how I felt about her style. Read the full review here.
Final Verdict: For presidential history buffs, a fine read. For those looking for humor or a lighter read, take this up with some caution.