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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dissecting America
n the part of the world where I live, good English books are rare. Having something as " "alternative" " as this stacked in the bookshops... yeah, right. I first saw Sarah Vowell on the David Letterman Show. The thing that made me want to buy this book was the title. Yes, I am obssessed with the Godfather too.
As I read on, I found it had as much...
Published on 31 Dec 2000

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad, but Not Great
Like many other readers of this book, I found that Vowell's essays work much better on NPR than they do on the page. Part of that may be ascribed to the overall mood that's created when you hear her voice tell the story, along with the perfect background and bridging music. Her timing and pace is just so much better on radio than in writing—a lot of those caustic or...
Published on 21 April 2003 by A. Ross


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad, but Not Great, 21 April 2003
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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Like many other readers of this book, I found that Vowell's essays work much better on NPR than they do on the page. Part of that may be ascribed to the overall mood that's created when you hear her voice tell the story, along with the perfect background and bridging music. Her timing and pace is just so much better on radio than in writing—a lot of those caustic or telling one-liners just lie dead on the page. Finally, when I hear her radio pieces it's usually a totally welcome surprise and treat while I'm stuck in the car, whereas when actually sitting down to read her book, I couldn't help thinking of unread books on my shelf crying for attention. What I mean is that Vowell's take on American life is most welcome and effective when it's unexpected.
The sixteen essays aren't particularly bad (except the one on Frank Sinatra, which is the one case where Vowell takes a conceit—Sinatra as the original punk—and attempts to ram it home despite the obvious contradictions), but very few of them are truly engaging in the way her radio work is. The best two, are not surprisingly, two of the most personal: "Shooting Dad", in which she elegantly displays her relationship with her gun-loving father, and "What I See When I Look On the Face on the $20 Bill", in which she and her sister embark on a "Trail of Tears" road trip to try and get in touch with their part-Cherokee heritage. On the other end of the spectrum are her set pieces on the famous Chelsea Hotel, learning to drive, hanging out with goths, Disney World, a cheezy Rock 'n Roll fantasy camp, none of which are particularly insightful, funny, or distinctive. Somewhere in the middle are more autobiographical pieces, such as those on her insomnia, obsession with The Godfather, playing music in high school, and the end of the world all of which have chuckle moments and are much less self-consciously post-ironic hipsteresque than other parts.
Vowell is great on radio, and I suspect over time, she'll get better and better on paper. The two recommendations I have for this book are to spread it out over time, read it in small chunks, and not to have overly high expectations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dissecting America, 31 Dec 2000
By A Customer
n the part of the world where I live, good English books are rare. Having something as " "alternative" " as this stacked in the bookshops... yeah, right. I first saw Sarah Vowell on the David Letterman Show. The thing that made me want to buy this book was the title. Yes, I am obssessed with the Godfather too.
As I read on, I found it had as much to do with the Godfather as sliced bread did. Having said this, you would probably have thought that I might have chucked the book. But no, I couldn't put it down.
I guess the best words to describe this book would be "nakedly autobiographical". As I read on, I found myself identifying with Vowell's voice, even though I was brought up in land where America was portrayed as the pathetic setting for the Rosanne comedy skits on TV.
Essays like "Music Lessons" have more to do with Ms. Vowell's analysis of accidental life lessons she gained from her band-geek days, like how the Darwinian implications of high school cliques carries over to the real world, than actual MUSIC LESSONS.
"Orchestra kids wear tuxedos. Band kids wear tuxedo T-shirts. The one thing the band kids and the orchestra kids had in common was a unified disgust for the chorus kids who were, to us, merely drama geeks with access to four-part harmony."
I don't think there's a book out there that even slightly resembles this one. If there was, they probably nicked the ideas off Sarah Vowell.
Read it. You WON'T be sorry. I can vouch for that.
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5.0 out of 5 stars from a fellow don corleone disciple, 15 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World (Paperback)
i loved this book and finished it in two sittings. the author's wonderfully witty observations are fantastic, with the anicdotal nature of her writing making the reader feel relaxed; as a result you actually want to hear what she has to say, even though it may not apply to all.
from her obbsession with 'the godfather' to a frank sinatra pilgrimage, this book spans the whole of north america and is a must for any u.s.a fan. a thoroughly enjoyable yarn!
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Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World
Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World by Sarah Vowell (Paperback - 31 Jan 2002)
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