Thursday, August 04, 2005

Now playing in the Mimiloumobile: Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation.

I'm really enjoying this book -- Vowell writes about three presidential assassinations (Lincoln's, Garfield's, and McKinley's), and about her various road trips to historical sites related to them. She even goes as far as Fort Jefferson off the coast of Key West to see where Samuel Mudd was imprisoned. The book is both thoroughly engaging and insightful (I'd say "quirky," too, but that's too much of a cliché when it comes to Vowell). Plus there's a treasure trove of historical trivia with which to dazzle your friends. Like this: Did you know that Lincoln's son was present at all three of the aforementioned assassinations?

I loved this sentence:

The interior of the Ford's Theatre in which Lincoln was shot collapsed in 1893, but then, in 1968, the National Park Service dedicated this restoration, duplicating the setting of one of the most repugnant moments in American history just so morbid looky-loos like me could sign up for April 14, 1865, as if it were some kind of assassination fantasy camp.

Although I could never articulate that sentiment like she did, I've often though the same thing when visiting tourist sites that were once the scene of tragedy, like the Anne Frank house and the Tower of London and slave quarters in Charleston.

(I'm also finding myself oddly desiring to enunciate my words in the ultra-crisp way Vowell does, but perhaps without the squeakiness. But then I think of the effort involved in such diction and decide instead to continue my usual rushed speaking patterns.)