Friday, March 9, 2012
Take the Cannoli
Simon & Schuster, 2000
Continuing on my Sarah Vowell binge, I picked up this early release, a compilation of essays previously published in other editions. My guess was that the title references the famous The Godfather line "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli" and I was correct; that film serves as an inspiration for an essay here as Vowell visited Italy partly due to her love of the film.
The essays here are varied in topic, mostly focusing on Vowell's life, pop culture often music, and American history. I think my second favorite essay was "What I See When I Look at the Face on the $20 Bill" where Vowell and her sister follow the Trail of Tears, the forced march of Native Americans (including the Cherokee from whom Vowell descends) from Georgia to Oklahoma in the 1830s as the United States government stole their land. This happened under the presidency of Andrew Jackson, who was originally ranked very high but whose legacy has been challenged in recent years, in large part due to his actions in this regard. I loathe AJ so I am thrilled with this change. However this essay is more personal due to Vowell's ancestry.
My favorite essay was actually the first titled "Shooting Dad." Vowell's father is a gunsmith with conservative leanings counterbalanced by Vowell's more liberal leanings. For a long time, she didn't get guns but as she grew older, she appreciated the artistry of his work and they learned to communicate better even when they disagreed. It was a great way to start off the collection.
Like most collections though, there are invariably a chapter or two that don't speak to the reader. That happened here too. Maybe I tried to plow through the book too fast and would have enjoyed savoring a chapter a day. I just became a little tired of Vowell's voice and the topic of the essay didn't speak to me the way earlier ones had. Still I am very happy to have read this and I will continue to seek out Vowell's writing because it is generally enjoyable with wonderful accents of humor.