Sunday, October 19, 2008
The Wordy Shipmates
I love Sarah Vowell. Sadly, her latest book, The Wordy Shipmates, is now known to me as "Strike Two for Favorite Writers Disappointing Me Lately." (The first being Sedaris). Perhaps I should blame the build up and not the actual book. I've been waiting for this release for at least a year. I've listened to excerpts on This American Life. I was even the first person to check the book out of the library for goodness sakes! As someone who rarely ventures into the territory of brand new books, that's kinda a big deal. But still.
The Wordy Shipmates is all about those crazy Puritans that came to the New World in the 1630s. Vowell purposely chooses to focus on the Puritans of post-Pilgrim/Thanksgiving days, and pre-Witch/Extra-Crazy days. And really, I approve of her subject. And I like history too. But what I realized I really like about Vowell's writing is all the personal stuff she squeezes in between the historical factoids. It's lacking in this book. (Although I did enjoy knowing she wore ballet flats in the snow while seeking out the site of John Winthrop's house.)
In short, the good bits of the book were already featured on This American Life's "What I Learned From Television" episode. Other interesting bits include the few pages about the Pequot War and Anne Hutchison. The rest of the time I was trying to keep track of each stuffy player in early American history.
Recommendation: If you're a Sarah Vowell fan, I can't stop you from reading it (because you still should), if you're just getting to know her... start with Assassination Vacation.