Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Review of Take the Cannoli
Sarah Vowell is probably most well-known in the mainstream media as the voice of Violet Parr in Pixar's The Incredibles. However, she's been writing for a long time, plus appearing regularly on NPR's This American Life. I think I may have first seen her in Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns), a documentary about They Might Be Giants (which is great, if you haven't seen it).
So, with all that, I'd been meaning to check out her books for awhile, but hadn't gotten around to it until the carte blanche of the Public Library system, which magically allows me to read books to see if I like them...without paying. It's crazy!
I was pondering which book to start with. I saw her on David Letterman when she was promoting Assassination Vacation, but I was worried that book would be too history-laden for me. She's a girl who loves history. And I am not that girl. After reviewing my options, I decided to start with Take the Cannoli, which I believe is her first, and covers a variety of topics (not just historical sites or assassinated political figures).
And my thoughts? I really liked it! She is wry, witty, funny, and someone you can totally imagine being your friend. In fact, she completely reminded me of one of my high school friends. I was thinking it wasn't laugh out loud funny but then I did laugh out loud during a couple of the later stories. I particularly enjoyed the story about her going to a goth club in goth drag. She is asked to come up with a goth name, and the most evil name she can think of is "Becky," because she believes that all things sweet and good have darker undertones than those traditionally considered goth, like the name "Raven," for example. The goths are impressed that she's mastered the concept so quickly.
She even manages to make the history interesting, so I'm reconsidering the other books. I recommend her work! Especially if you like David Sedaris-type non-fiction vignettes (though he is a bit more outrageous, as you might suspect).
[Updated to add: this book had a "Teen" sticker on it at the library. I have no idea why. I wouldn't say that the subject matter makes it at all a teen book. Weird.]