I am a voracious reader with fairly eclectic taste. I like both fiction and non-fiction, biography, history and current events. I like well written mysteries and suspense and I love 19th and 20th century classical literature as well as modern fiction. My favorite author is Philip Roth but I also love Trollope, Hardy, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Austen and Edith Wharton. My favorite biographer is Robert Caro.
I usually only listen to the radio for traffic reports so I was not familiar with Sarah Vowell when I purchased this audiobook. I was impressed with the consistency of the reviews and figured I'd take a chance. I only wish Sarah Vowell had many more books to listen to as this was so enjoyable I sat in my driveway finishing one of the 'stories'.
The moronic review of Vowell as a 'female Al Franken' reveals more ignorance on the part of the reviewer than insight into Vowell's politics. But if you think anyone who is not a fan of George Bush is Al Franken (a.k.a. the Antichrist) perhaps you won't like Vowell. She has her own very distinct voice --and her approach to politics comes via a Montana childhood, a gun-loving family, and very unusual taste in vacations for a person of her age. The comparison with Franken would be comical if it weren't so pathetic. Other than the fact that both authors are clearly more intelligent than average--and funnier--only their dislike of Bush unites them . I hardly think one needs to be 'warned' against listening to such a thoughtful and reasoned presentation of ideas--unless your mind is already atrophied and closed.
Sarah Vowell does in fact have an unusual vocal quality--a sort of tiny, sharp voice that makes me think she must be short and delicate-boned; but in fact I loved listening to her voice reading her book. Her thinking is quick but she presents slowly and methodically and builds up to conclusions that somehow seem ineluctable once you've heard them--though she is nothing if not quirky.
She talks a lot about visiting historical sites and landmarks...which are quite a passion of hers. It is this aspect of the book which gives her writing its distinctive voice and flavor.
If you can expand your mind to encompass more kinds of Patriots than the 'my country right or wrong' type, don't miss Sarah Vowell's 'Partly Cloudy Patriot'!!
I enjoyed every minute of this well narrated and well written book. It is the basis for the part of the movie Julie/Julia that is based on Julia Child's life and it describes both her love of cooking and the delights of living in France...also the delights of EATING in France. A great recommendation for fans of France or of Julia Child."
Sarah Vowell has an amazingly weird imagination and a curiously sweet and high-pitched voice. Her low key delivery in no way prepares you to hear her tell such twisted, funny yet morbid stories.
Part of the satisfaction of hearing this book recorded is the shock of that sweet Midwestern voice telling such gruesome tales with such obvious relish. The other part is hearing such astute political commentary from such a weird perspective.
I keep thinking she's about to narrate a Betty Crocker cookbook, and then she provides historical insight and analyis combined with political commentary that gets right to the blazing white heart of contemporary America.
I love having this book as an audible file so that I can go back and listen again and again--there is so much here that each 'reading' reveals more. Vowell's focus on assasination is both weird and fascinating, but her razor sharp intelligence could make me listen to just about anything she found interesting enough to write about.
Though this narrative is almost 15 years old (Hessler worked for the Peace Corps in the late 1990's), and that seems a long time ago at the frantic pace of change in present day China, most of the observations seem relevant today, especially those addressing the human dimension. The narrator has a young 20s male voice, a bit on the nasal side, but reading at a lively and varied rhythm. He is great at making distinct voices for different characters. As is often the case with books on China, this reader mispronounces many Chinese names, but it's a minor issue. He has a good sense for dramatic pauses and for getting "in character." It's easy to mistakenly think that you're listening to the author himself.