Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World

Sarah Vowell, Author
Sarah Vowell, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (224p) ISBN 978-0-684-86797-7
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-7432-0540-5
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4391-2651-6
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-14-100657-4
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A good storyteller can engage, provoke and intrigue in a few pages or a matter of moments. A great storyteller can accomplish all that while reflecting on something as mundane as an Italian dessert or a Midwestern bridge. A regular on Public Radio International's This American Life, Vowell (Radio On: A Listener's Diary) proves to be the latter in this quirky collection of thoughts, ramblings and memories that charmingly cohere into a full picture of American life. While she occasionally attempts to tackle larger political and historical issues, her talent lies in making small details bright and engaging. Especially sharp are her explorations of topics that might at first seem tired and overplayed, such as the Godfather movies (from which she draws the book's title), road trips, Disney and Sinatra. She displays her knack for insight during both her journalistic quests, as when she writes histories of New York's Chelsea Hotel and Chicago's Michigan Avenue Bridge, and her personal journeys, as when she describes a courtship conducted by exchanging cassette tapes. The essays, which rarely reference each other, stand on their own as snippets from the mind of a pop culture maven Taken together, however, they form a vivid autobiographical portrait: Vowell's description of growing up a gunsmith's daughter in Oklahoma complements another essay about road tripping with her sister down the Trail of Tears, and makes an ensuing piece on a visit to Disney's planned town, Celebration, even funnier. Vowell's writing--a blend of serious observations and bouncy remarks--makes for rich commentary on America, and for great stories. Agent, Wendy Weil. (Apr.)
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