The Wordy Shipmates on audio at my local library (though I also own the book in hardcover) in an effort to continue to get to know this author that I've always loved.* Her subject of choice this time around? None other than the Puritans, that miserly, no-fun lot that first settled our precious American shores. Well, except for the Native Americans, of course. And they weren't always no-fun, actually. And they didn't all wear black with silly white hats, either.
These are the myths that Vowell sets out to de-bunk, and she does so successfully. Puritan writing can be dry as all get-out (have you ever actually read Winthrop's extensive sermons?), but Vowell, in her usual style, treats this material with an irreverent attitude that makes it all seem... approachable, somehow. Add in the fact that she reads her own audiobooks, and Vowell's story, as well as her humor and dry, sarcastic wit, come to life in every sense of the word. Then consider a delightful cast of additional readers, including (but certainly not limited to) Peter Dinklage as the voice of Roger Williams, that outcast who ultimately founded that bizarre little state, Rhode Island.
Though this was not my favorite of Vowell's works (I find her style to be more impactful in essays than in full-length histories), I can honestly say that any writer capable of teaching us about the Puritans through a careful examination of The Brady Bunch pilgrim episode is clearly a writer worth reading. Especially when said writer manages to pull it off successfully -- which Vowell does here. The Wordy Shipmates is a delightful, if sometimes overly detailed read, and the audio version is even better. After all, who doesn't want to hear Sarah Vowell and Peter Dinklage tell us about Puritan politics? Amiright?
*The Wordy Shipmates actually came out before Unfamiliar Fishes, but I didn't read them in order.
Watch Sarah Vowell on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, which is probably one of the best things ever:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
Thoughts from other bookworms:
S. Krishna's Books
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The Wordy Shipmates | Sarah Vowell, nar. Sarah Vowell & Cast | Simon & Schuster Audio | 9781590514634 | $29.99 Audio CD | 6 CDs, 7 hrs | October 2008 | Buy from an independent bookstore near you