When reading a book, I cannot help but try to mimic the author’s voice in their heads while breezing through the pages. While reading “Assassination Vacation” by Sarah Vowell, one couldn’t help but picture a middle aged sarcastic woman with quick and clever lines just waiting in her arsenal. Upon attending Sarah Vowell’s book review at Lenoir-Rhyne University, anyone could see that the image pictured in the mind while reading, was blown away by the real presence of Vowell herself. She is a short confident woman who offers comedic relief to even the most serious of topics. Vowell has a very unique voice that gives aid to her attention grabbing methods of comedy as they provide an almost serene background. If one were to look closer at the book, then they would see evidence of Sarah Vowell transferring her own experiences and personality directly into Assassination Vacation. Vowell’s implementation of herself into the book changes the feel and tone of the book overall.
Vowell Implements her real life experiences into the book on several occasions. On page 99 she comments on one of her personal relationships with the dead.
”I see Edwin’s statue almost everyday. He’s so familiar and homey I would almost consider him my mascot but for the fact that he’s fenced off in Gramercy Park and I’m one of the 7,999,900 New Yorkers who don’t have a key”(99)
The Edwin she is referring to is John Wilkes Booth’s older brother. It’s actually enlightening to see her put a positive spin to the brother of one of history’s most famous killers. The book is transformed by Sarah Vowell’s presence as it changes the thought process of the reader as they now have a lighter feel to a series topic.
On page 192 when discussing President McKinely’s assassination, Vowell places herself in the shoes of his widow Ida Mckinley. “I think about Ida, the constant looping of her hook through the yarn, overtime I play with my souvenir from the museum that I keep on my desk-The McKinley Memorial yo-yo.”(192-193) Her taking of a serious incident, Ida being taken over by despair, and retorting a comedic toy like a yo-yo keeps the readers spirit afloat even when discussing tragedy. The yo-yo can be referenced to Ida’s and Sarah’s constant bounce backs in time, Sarah thinking of historical thought processes and Ida thinking about McKinley.
Sarah’s implementation of herself into the story not only ads realism, but a comedic relief that keeps the reader’s spirit lifted and ganged when even discussing assignation. It’s a rarely seen strategy by writers who discussing tragedies, but like Vowell’s childhood radio show, she developed the skills needed to make her work flow. When talking about her writing process in the book review she mentions the journalistic adventure, “I see myself as a writer and when I write my books I think like a journalist and take the reader along with me.
Vowell, Sarah. Assassination Vacation. London: Simon & Schuster, 2006. Print.
The Vising Writer Series, Sarah Vowell. Lenoir-Rhyne University October 13th, 2016