Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World Paperback – 30 Jan 2003
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Lawrence Weschler Sarah Vowell's uncanny voice -- by turns wise and wise-ass, wry and celebratory, heartrending and hilarious -- translates seamlessly to the page: equal parts Betty Boop and Dorothy Parker, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman, Woody Guthrie and Arlo Guthrie. She pegs herself as "a typical American mutt." American she undoubtedly (unabashedly!) is, but typical? Hardly. This American Mutt is easily the year's Best in Show. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Sarah Vowell grew up the daughter of a gunsmith in Montana, and now lives in New York City where she writes and presents a highly acclaimed Saturday morning radio show. She is in her thirties.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The love of music she evidenced in her previous book Radio On is still here, with her faves like Jonathan Richman sprinkled throughout the book. Her irreverent spirit is best displayed in the title chapter, where she appropriates the phrase "Take The Cannoli" from the film The Godfather and truly makes it her own.
Vowell goes to Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp, goes deep into the heart of the Chelsea Hotel, and gets glammed up as a goth girl, all in the name of journalism. She truly shines in this collection as a young person who has not given up on America or on rock n' roll, but who right claims her place to critique and evaluate them on her own terms.
This same voice - wry, ironic, cranky, always engaging, and often very, very funny - can be found sans audio (Vowell herself says her speaking voice is "straight out of the second grade") in this collection of short memoir pieces and essays.
I should point out here that I'm not an unbiased reviewer: I admire many of the same elements of our culture that Vowell does: Elvis, 50's Sinatra, "The Godfather", Mark Twain, "The Great Gatsby", Beat writing, authentic music with an edge. So if Vowelll were in my high school I would have wanted very much to have compared notes when she was not performing "Tico Tico". But regardless of YOUR passions, there's plenty to enjoy in this book from a fresh new voice with a quirky but consistently insightful take on our culture.
Humor is so hard to pull off well in writing - and Vowell has fabulous timing and delivery. I'll look forward to her next book - where perhaps she can more consciously try to tie together memorable snapshots like these into a more unified whole. Even here, however, the book adds up to more than the sume of its component parts.
I liked Vowell's line that "'What is This Thing Called Love' is the driving question behind the entire Sinatra research project." Possibly her subsequent work could elaborate more overtly on her take of "What is This Thing Called Life?". In the meantime - this is a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable book, full of fresh and interesting takes on our culture from a rapidly maturing artist. I strongly recommend it.
But if fun is not all you are looking for, Vowell is also a walking encyclopedia. Vowell gives us a history lesson in two essays in particular. "Michigan and Wacker" is a virtual history of Chicago in 13 pages, while "What I See When I Look at a $20 Bill" is an intriguing take on the Trail of Tears which forced Native Americans out of Georgia to Oklahoma. Embarassingly, I learned more about this ugly chapter in American history than was taught to me in high school.
I recently had a chance to go to a Vowell reading (along with her NPR colleague, David Sedaris -- a wonderful pairing by the way). Vowell's speaking voice is very distinctive and made me enjoy reading this collection even more since I was able to "hear" her as I read. I encourage folks to seek her out on NPR to get the more complete Vowell experience.