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Somewhere in America: Under the Radar with Chicken Warriors, Left-Wing Patriots, Angry Nudists, and Others Paperback – Bargain Price, July 12, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As the New Yorker's "U.S. Journal" columnist, Singer begins this collection of his essays with a deep bow to Calvin Trillin, who originated the magazine's section. Indeed, some of Singer's jaunts through our country's back roads and urban centers seem like journeys Trillin would make, complete with commentary on hidden towns and eccentric folk. But Singer distinguishes himself from his predecessor and mentor with a style that's distinctive and, best of all, addictive. His tales take their time without wandering, and enchant without a trace of nostalgia. He's most adept at balancing reportage with a human-interest angle, as when he writes about a car accident that resulted in a young woman's death. Although the town weeps for the victim's husband and daughter, a cloud of suspicion about the husband lingers for the woman's family, and Singer's details about the case make it immediate and compelling. In other essays, he takes on a wide range of stories; nothing seems beneath his curiosity. A standout is the outrage of a Connecticut community when a citizen wants to build an abomination: "Oddly, for a place with a long history of devotion to genteel leisure, the perceived lethal weapon aimed at Norfolk's soul is a luxury golf course." From there, the wrangling over a stretch of land achieves absurd, fascinating proportions. Singer's travelogue, which also includes cockfighting, school prayer, potluck picnics and motorcycle clubs, is a journey definitely worth taking.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

What do game fowl breeders, worm farmers, obituary writers, and skinny-dipping aficionados have in common? All have dropped below the radar screen of the nation's consciousness, only to be captured by Singer's discerning eye. Picking up the New Yorker magazine's "U.S. Journal" column-writing mantle from its originator, Calvin Trillin, Singer travels around the country, ferreting out the funky, funny, and familiar stories that usually go unnoticed. There are, indeed, two sides to every story, and Singer has a knack for presenting them both. Whether it's a community divided over an amendment enforcing the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance or a family united in its quest for justice for a 30-year-old murder, Singer manages to reveal the essential crux of a story in an illuminating "aha!" moment of clarity. By the time one reaches the end of a Singer essay, the reader knows as much as anyone can possibly know about institutions and individuals who could be, and undoubtedly are, our neighbors, our friends, ourselves. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (July 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618581685
  • ASIN: B000V4R1KC
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,465,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Guild on December 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Let me be the first to write a Customer Review on this book.At first glance, I thought it was going to be your typical Road Book by someone taking a long trip across or around America.I soon found that was not what this book was. The author is a staff writer for The New Yorker and I gather this book is a compilation of stories he has written for the magazine.A reader of the magazine will probably be familiar with Singer,but he was new to me.He is a great writer first, and an excellent observer of the human condition and experience.In many ways he reminds me of Jean Shepard,who used to have a nightly show on WOR New York in the early 1970's,made many appearances on the college circuit,and later did a great TV series "Jean Shepard's America".Unfortunately "Shep" ,"passed into life's next adventure" a few years ago.see pg.167.
Rather than travelling the roads and relating his experiencs,he takes us for a visit to 19 places to witness some very interesting and first hand experiences of American life.In all cases we become the fly on the wallpaper and get a real insight into some unusual goings on. Thest are not once ever events .The reader could follow Singer's footsteps if he should be inclined to do.
Here are several of the places he takes us:

Cockfighting in Oklahoma

Snowmobiling in Montana

Civil War Buffs in Louisians

Closing of a famous Family Diner in Lee, Massachusetts

A confrontation over The Pledge of Allegiance in Madison ,WI.

The execution of Timothy McVeigh in Terre Haute,In.

The Great Obituary Writer's Convention

Race Riots in Cincinnati,Oh.

The Great Worm Growing Scandal in Weleetka,Okla.

These are a great bunch of short stories for anyone who enjoys reading about life off the beaten track.
Although this book was published in 2004,I am surprised that there haven't been more reviews written to date.
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Format: Paperback
I was hesitant to read essays written on then current events, 10-11 years after the fact. Actually, it gave me a perspective I wouldn't have had closer to the events, as time has allowed emotions on those topics to mellow.

I laughed out loud while reading two of the essays, which I haven't done since reading James Herriot decades ago. I couldn't agree less with the reviewer that said it didn't flow for him/her. Singer's writing style was wonderful and his tongue-in-cheek humor, refreshing. I'll seek out more of his writing.

Each essay got you thinking, but not to the point of feeling that the topics were too heavy for pre-bedtime reading. Thoroughly enjoyable!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A travelogue is a book that describes the journey to a place. This is not such a book. The chapters vary from one chapter to another, be it a small town in Indiana to another town in Texas or North Carolina or New Jersey. Singer focuses on certain people and the places the people find themselves in, taking on contemporary topics like religion, unsolved murders, guns or dog fighters. Well-written and witty, this is still a good read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm glad I bought the book -- And I especially liked the feel you get for how diverse this country is.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William J. Higgins,III on December 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Occasionally one can manage a reasonable find in the bargain bin. Not here.

The author, at the time, was a well respected writer for The New Yorker and this is a compilation of various articles from him during the early part of this century.

I found the chapter topics very interesting but the overall writing style seemed disjointed and lacking coherence. Just didn't seem to flow. Which is too bad, because in the right hands this could have been an entertaining and informative read.
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