- Hardcover: 197 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (August 27, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743223527
- ISBN-13: 978-0743223522
- Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Partly Cloudy Patriot Hardcover – August 27, 2002
|New from||Used from|
From Publishers Weekly
Looking for insight into why she prefers Little Bighorn and Gettysburg to Martha's Vineyard, Vowell (author of the witty Take the Cannoli) calls her friend Kate, who works as a counselor for survivors of torture, who says, "That's how we try to make sense of the worst horrors. We use humor to manage anxiety." If Kate's right, then Vowell is managing her anxiety very well. Her best short, personal essays (anywhere from about two to 12 pages) focus on her ambivalent relationship to American history and citizenship: no one in recent memory has been as insightful on the direct pleasures and perils of voting, the misuse of Rosa Parks as a metaphor, the appeal of Canadians (who "ha[ve] this weird knack for loving their country in public without resorting to swagger or hate") and the relative merits of presidential libraries. Further undone, perhaps, by her devotion to such topics, Vowell also offers an eloquent defense of being a nerd: "Going too far and caring too much about a subject is the best way to make friends that I know." To wit, her hilarious essay "The Nerd Voice," which chronicles her political e-mail group as "the all-time nerdiest thing I've ever been involved in, and I say that as a person who has been involved with public radio and marching band." Even in the essays on pop culture, like "The New German Cinema" and "Tom Cruise Makes Me Nervous," Vowell, like David Sedaris, goes too far, cares too much and remains a very anxious and extremely funny citizen and shady patriot.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-These essays and commentaries from Vowell's NPR radio appearances and other sources are curmudgeonly, critical, liberal, and, often, laugh-out-loud funny. The commentator, a self-described history nerd, wanders across the spectrum of American life from the theme-park feeling of Salem, MA, where she purchased a Witch's Crossing shot glass, to the glories of Carlsbad Caverns and the Underground Luncheonette. She belongs to a political listserv that was aghast at the results of the 2000 election, yet, joining several of the members on a road trip to protest the Inauguration, she ended up weeping as she sang the "Star-Spangled Banner." Her commitment to America and her dismay about the current direction of the government, both before and after September 11, are strongly stated, but her wit and slightly quirky outlook make reading her book a pleasure. Teens, regardless of their political leanings, will enjoy the pop-culture connections and even learn some history while smiling at her delivery. This title will work well for assignments on essay writing and even provide material for monologues.
Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Sarah Vowell is, at heart, a hip, nerdish, Gen-Xer like me. She has a special knack for story-telling. When I read this book, I was reminded of David Sedaris in some ways. I enjoyed it as much as Sedaris, but for different reasons. While Sedaris' anecdotes are "laugh out loud" funny, Sarah's stories are told with a dry, subtle wit. I look forward to reading more of her work.
For those unfamiliar with Vowell, I urge you to try and get a listen to her either in her regular gig on NPR or a book tour appearance/reading that is currently being aired on C-SPAN. Having Vowell's distinctive speaking voice in your head (she notes that she and Abraham Lincoln may share a similar oratory style -- "as squeaky as a six-year-old girl"), will only add to your reading enjoyment.
A slight warning � Vowell is a bleeding heart Democrat and she wears that heart proudly on her sleeve, so those with who do not have a similar political bent may have a tougher time stomaching some of the essays. Despite having a perpetual "partly cloudy" outlook of the world, there is also a palpable optimism that runs through Vowell's work. As she hilariously notes in one essay, her motto in any situation is "it could be worse." And, at times, that is not a bad way at all to get through some tough times.
Vowell's nerdiness manifests itself in her desire to spend her vacations going to historical sites where she can gain insights to life in America. I share this passion with her. For instance, I recently had an epiphany at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library. Looking at my own reflection in the actual mirror in which Lincoln looked at his reflection everyday when shaving, I suddenly realized that no matter what trials and tribulations we may have suffered thus far in the twenty-first century, I am much better looking than Old Abe. Life is good.
Vowell's insights may not be as blindingly brilliant as mine, but whether she's extolling Lincoln's humanity, bemoaning the nerdiness that lost Gore the election, or weighing the relative merits of lunchrooms in caves, her essays are interesting and worthwhile and often rolling-in-the-bookstore-aisles hilarious. I give this book a 5 Pocket Protector rating.
Vowell is a warm, sincere essayist. Her casual prose and unique pop-culture approach is witty without ever being pendantic or condescending (if you've ever heard an interview, she's very self-effacing). Despite her leftist slant, her strongest essays offer keen observation of the uniqueness (for better and worse) of the collective American psyche. In "Cowboys v. Mounties", she compares the histories of the U.S. and Canada. Even though she's generally a fan of Canadians, something about them seems "off". In her experiences with The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, she learns what it is: Individual Canadians truly considering themselves a minor part of collective social fabric; their unerring modesty and politeness are characteristic of this and seem creepy to the American sense of individuality. In "Wonder Twins" she compares her relationship with her fraternal twin sister with that of Myanmar twins who briefly commanded a guerilla army. Some of her ideas seem a bit flimsy to me, but her assertions are usually interesting and worthy of consideration. Vowell's best essays make social observations rather than being overtly political.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sarah Vowell writes with a simplicity and humor that I enjoy. There is history, social comments, and personal stories mixed together in such an interesting mix. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Molly Brown
Sarah's wit is only superseded by her diligence as a explorer of Americana.Published 4 months ago by David A. Nelson-gal
A really good book and an easy read. Once you start it's hard to put down.Published 5 months ago by Charlotte Hinson
Vowell is at her best when writing about history. Her personal views are uninteresting.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Long haired cats. Early American Furniture . Hot Dogs. John Deere Tractors . Encyclopedias .Twinkies . Read morePublished 6 months ago by Julie
I have read quite a few of Sarah Vowell's books, and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. This one, being more of a collection of essays, seemed a little disjointed, which is why I'm... Read morePublished 6 months ago by William I. Kipp