Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Need a Book to Read?

Check out Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation. I laughed, I cried, I cracked up when she called Robert Todd Lincoln, "Jinxy McDeath" for having inadvertantly been in attendance at three Presidential murders, including Robert's Pa, Abraham Lincoln as well as Presidents James Garfield and William McKinley. Hey, who knew? She cuts Robert no slack, either. Turns out he did some pretty crappy things in his lifetime, but you'll have to read the book to find out what.

Vowell, who you may know from any number of projects she's worked on and from Daily Show appearances, has a wonderfully ironic voice (though sometimes a tad annoying), as well as a piercing sense of historical connection, both our historical past and present. She's obsessed about three particular assassinations, and she makes you obsessed with them for a while as well. Plus, she does all the macabre footwork for you.

Anyway, it's a fun read, and you'll learn more about James Garfield in one chapter than you've ever learned about him in your entire life. It's too bad his life was cut so short. As Vowell describes him, he could have been a great President, except for some nasty germs from some grimy hands in a bullet wound and a crazy gunman who thought God told him to shoot the President.

That God. He's always telling someone to do something or the other. Hey, who knew?

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