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Friday, November 18, 2016

Don't Shoot The Messenger

After realizing my fiction to non-fiction ratio had recently gotten out of whack, I consulted my trusty list only to discover no non-fiction on there - clearly, time for a library drive-by. And the yield?  Immediately satisfying. Four intriguing titles by authors whose previous work I've enjoyed - Sarah Bakewell, Jon Krakauer, Erik Larson, and Sarah Vowell - jumped off the shelves into my hungry arms. Then a book of literary criticism by the well regarded James Wood joined the pile. Ooh, goody. Stay tuned as I digest this feast.

How to prioritize this yummy meal? Decided I'd start with the shortest of the five which turned out to be Vowell's "Assassination Vacation" (2005). Though it didn't grab me as much as her more recent "Wordy Shipmates" (2008), I'm guessing the opposite would be true for most readers because the earlier book is about an inherently more interesting - if slightly morbid - subject.

This talented young author has attitude to spare, politics that match my own, and an irreverent sense of humor that is tough to beat. "One of John Wilkes Booth's many faults is that he did not have the decency to die within walking distance of a Metro stop."  Soon after seeing Stephen Sondheim's provocative show entitled "Assassins", Vowell drags her tolerant sister and her Pugsley-like nephew on a deranged road trip, visiting the perverse landmarks constructed and lovingly preserved by an industry that can only be described as ghoulish. Lincoln and Booth are names known to many of us, but how about Presidents Garfield and McKinley and their respective killers? Intrigued? I know I was in schadenfreude heaven even as my frequent laughter mortified me - a little.

Not your cup of tea? I get it. Take a look at my post below from early this year about "Wordy Shipmates" - more esoteric subject, for sure, but you owe it to yourself to check out this author.


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