Sarah Vowell

I’ve a love / hate relationship with Sarah Vowell.  I loved Assassination Vacation and her contributions to This American Life. But I couldn’t finish The Wordy Shipmates.  Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy American history and I’ve always had a high tolerance for “snarky”.  Her brand makes me uncomfortable, though.  Sometimes.  When she doesn’t make me laugh.  Or tear up.  I don’t know… take a look at the trailer for her new book, Unfamiliar Fishes, and decide for yourselves.

See what I mean? Vowell makes these fabulous and (seemingly) far-fetched connections.  She’s constantly walking a fence between irony and mockery, and it’s never clear which side she intends to land on.  In her hands history becomes accessible and relevant.  And damn funny.  You know, the more I think about it, maybe it’s just the Puritans I don’t like…

What are your thoughts on Sarah Vowell? Love her? Hate her? Ambivalent? Confused?

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2 thoughts on “Sarah Vowell

  1. I’m new to Sarah Vowell, so this is a neophyte’s perspective. I saw her on the Daily Show and now I’m 65 pages into Wordy Shipmates. I’m finding her to be a delightfully entertaining, provocative and thought-provoking Rorschach. She tempts me down some great thought trails that are lined with ambiguity. And she’s doing it in a way where I find it comfortable to agree or disagree with her, while remaining grateful either way.


    1. Ross – Thank you for stopping by.

      Rorschach… now I’m intrigued. I believe you are referring to the Alan Moore character and not the test with all the big black butterflies (though with my art anatomy training they always remind me of pelvic bones – I’m sure someone could have a field day with that)? Either way, I’m not sure if it’s a compliment.

      Don’t get me wrong – I d0 enjoy Sarah Vowell. Particularly when I’m in agreement with her slant on history and politics. When I’m not, though, it gets a little sticky. (That’s life, huh?) But I do know a lot of people, people whose opinion I respect, who aren’t as conflicted about her. And they all seem to be Jon Stewart fans (I’m more a citizen of the Colbert Nation, myself). Go figure. 🙂

      Have you picked out a book to read yet?


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