Take The Cannoli by Sarah Vowell


    That’s right, folks, the rut continues. But who can blame me? Take The Cannoli is every bit as masterful as the other works I’ve read - essays full of insight and humor (even the dark ones have that sardonic twist that so many writers aspire to and few actually achieve.)
    The theme for this book is “Sarah Vowell: This Is Your Life!” It’s comprised of essays that have appeared in other places first, This American Life being chief among those other places. We learn about her father’s gun habit and how she held her first (and only) gun at the tender age of six. (I feel the need to add here that this is the one of many places in her books where I say “Me, too!” to either her experience or opinion. It’s yet another reason we should be BFF’s….Sarah, are you reading this? BFF’s. For real.)

    Reading these essays feels like sitting at the table with an old friend shooting the breeze over coffee at 3am: confessions, confidences, and the hard stories that shape who you’ve become spill out, ready to be told and peppered with insight and humor. You walk away feeling like a better person - more enlightened and compassionate.

    Ok - that is mostly referring to her essay “What I See When I Look at the Face on the Twenty-Dollar Bill” where she and her sister go on what might be the most depressing road-trip ever: a Heritage Tour of the Trail of Tears. Vowell is part Cherokee, so this bit of history is made that much more real. As much as she makes me laugh - this essay moved me to tears.  Not “I need a box of tissues” tears, but the more subtle, touching “aw you’re crying!” tears. Because it’s personal to her, it’s personal to us.

    But don’t worry - it’s not all White Guilt and nerdery. She also stays in the most infamous hotel in New York (and we all need a shower,) makes mix-tapes, goes to Disneyland, shares her love of the Godfather, and gets a goth makeover. (That last one particularly speaks to me - I showed up to a get-together once with my hair streaked black and in dreadlocks and with smokey eye makeup only to be told that no matter what I do I’m always a little “crunchy.” Normally I embrace it, but I was going for mysterious. Sigh.)

    Anyway - all of this is to say that even when it’s all I’m reading, Sarah Vowell doesn’t get old. Part of me wishes I’d eeked these out in the interest of not running out of her work to read, but the other part really likes diving in and being imbued with the insight and amusement. 

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