on September 21, 2009
The peripatetic Matthew Stevenson has been serving up his unique mixture of astute observation, historical perspective, literary context, and engaging style for three decades - taking us across six continents and forty-seven states while somehow managing to run an international bank and raise a large (by modern standards) family, as an expatriate American living in Europe. He never fails to entertain, educate, and satisfy, in bite-sized chunks which are anomalously stuffed full of historical and literary insights. I have known him casually from college days and occasional business visits to Geneva, and I've often wondered how one man is so adept at juggling so many things. (By contrast, it's taken me two years just to get around to writing a one paragraph review!) An April Across America is the two hour version of his three week tour of the US, which somehow manages to weave together David Koresh, Babe Ruth, Ulysses Grant, J. Edgar Hoover, Molly Ivins, and Joe Namath into a seamless narrative of Americana, despite its brevity. This travel journal/essay explains the extortion of baseball stadium finance, the sieges of Vicksburg and Waco, the unexpected beauty of Chapel Hill and surprising "nothingness" of Crawford Texas, the public education of American teens and the private anxieties of their parents about university selection. It's sort of like On The Road written for grown-ups. Along the way, like any good bibliophile, Matthew will remind you why Scott Fitzgerald was so compelling; will give you tips on how to finish the Faulkner novel you never got through in college; and will introduce you to at least one author you hadn't yet experienced. This is not a banker who dabbles in writing, but a gifted writer who became a banker to finance his habit. If you aren't familiar with Stevenson, start with An April Across America as a tasty, 100-page sampler menu, then work backwards through Mentioned in Dispatches and Letters of Transit. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
on September 15, 2014
This book by renown editor and travel essayist Matthew Stevenson is delightful and humorous in its conquest of America, one detailed venue at a time, from east to west, descriptions of place and people as only Stevenson can render them, from Newark to Princeton, Baltimore, Washington D.C., down into Virginia and North Carolina, into Birmingham, Alabama, to Oxford, Mississippi, Yazoo City, and Vicksburg, across Texas and on into Los Angeles, then north into San Francisco. An added bonus is a book jacket with the most beautiful art work since the classic The Great Gatsby. Renew you sense of American military, social, and sports history as finely pinpointed by Stevenson's observations.
on December 20, 2008
Matt Stevenson is so reliable. You can count on him to bring you a travelogue, political discussion, famous book quotes, movie tidbits and friendly conversation. I didn't know that Dustin Hoffman was 30 years old in the Mrs. Robinson movie and Anne Bancroft was only 36. I loved his allusion to Lincoln's letter of apology to Grant for thinking that Grant's strategy at Vicksburg was wrong when he proved he was right.
This book should be featured in every airport store. It's small, keeps
you entertained and is a great way to pass an hour or two.
Reviewed by Dede Silverston