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State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America Paperback – 1 Nov 2009

7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (1 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061470910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061470912
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“[State by State] is a funny, moving, rousing collection, greater than the sum of its excellent parts, a convention of literary superdelegates, each one boisterously nominating his or her piece of the Republic.” (New York Times Book Review)

“This fascinating collection, inspired by guides in the 1930s and 1940s, includes original essays on each of the states by some of the country’s finest (mostly younger) writers.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“Self-consciously modeled after state guides sponsored by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s, this ambitious effort features a terrific roster of writers.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Fascinating.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“Odds are, reading STATE BY STATE, that you’ll fall for every state a little, even if they remain tremendously hard to explain.” (Los Angeles Times)

“This eclectic collection of essays describing the ordinary people and places within our 50 states is as essential as the Rand McNally atlas. Alternately brash and bashful...each literary foray in State by State is well worth the trip. Grade: A.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“An enjoyable journey: 50 essays, cartoons and mini-plays, plus an afterward about Washington, DC and a fascinating appendix…all in all, it makes one yearn for a driver’s license and a stretch of open highway.” (New York Post)

“Ideal nightstand reading and a welcome reminder of the pluribus behind the unum.” (Salon.com)

From the Back Cover

See America with 50 of Our Finest, Funniest, and Foremost Writers Anthony Bourdain chases the fumigation truck in Bergen County, New Jersey

Dave Eggers tells it straight: Illinois is Number 1

Louise Erdrich loses her bikini top in North Dakota

Jonathan Franzen gets waylaid by New York's publicist...and personal attorney...and historian...and geologist

John Hodgman explains why there is no such thing as a "Massachusettsean"

Edward P. Jones makes the case: D.C. should be a state!

Jhumpa Lahiri declares her reckless love for the Rhode Island coast

Rick Moody explores the dark heart of Connecticut's Merritt Parkway, exit by exit

Ann Patchett makes a pilgrimage to the Civil War site at Shiloh, Tennessee

William T. Vollmann visits a San Francisco S&M club and Many More!


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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J L Yeomans on 9 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a bold attempt to provide a snapshot of the USA, state by state, by 50 different writers, and, for the most part, it succeeds - if in an idiosyncratic way. It's not a handbook or a guidebook or a set of stats, and it doesn't sell itself as such, so I'm surprised by some of the reviews on here.

It's a collection of essays, some deeply personal, by a gaggle of authors - some of whom have a deep and long-standing connection to the state they are writing about, and some of whom have just paid it a glancing visit. I find this refreshing, as it's sometimes out-of-towners, rather than natives, who can give better insight into a place.

The impression you get of every state is filtered by the interests and obsessions of the author. They are painting a portrait of their experience of a state, and some of these are photo-realistic, and some are decidedly abstract.

Highlights for me included two of the A's (the book is alphabetical): Alabama by George Packer and Arizona by Lydia Millet stick with me long after first reading. But there are other gems buried in here too: the graphic novella that comprises Oregon's chapter, and Jonathan Franzen's entry, in which he interviews New York state, and just about keeps it the right side of funny and whimsical.

I ended the book knowing more about the USA than I did before I read it; I was intrigued, entertained and informed. Recommended.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By G on 11 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
I am sorry but I found this book tedious in the extreme. Considering the authors are supposed to be the cream of the writing community I found almost every one dull, unfunny and boring. As for the stats at the start of each State, the editors should add up the population breakdowns on a calculator as they nearly all added up to over 100 percent, which is impossible. Very disappointing.
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By a.j.marston on 25 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
excellent deal
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ms. C. A. Handscombe on 22 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm so enjoying this book, as a way of discovering the US. As an aspiring writer, I am also absorbing the wonderful descriptive skills of the various authors.

In turn, funny, beautifully writter, informative, and very original.

Highly recommended.

I'd love a sequel - one chapter per American President!
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