Picking Favorites

In Sarah Vowell’s, Assassination Vacation, with vivid detail, and quirky humor, Vowell reflects, sharing with you every bit of knowledge that she has absorbed on her vacations in regards to the presidential assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley with a sense of child-like wonder. Vowell recalls her excitement with every new piece of fact that she discovered on her journeys, as well as the moments that brought her boredom. Upon

Cited from, Identity Theory

reading Assassination Vacation, any reader would question Vowell’s favoritism towards Abraham Lincoln, and her sense of dread in the writing of the chapter based on Garfield.

During the Visiting Writers Series, Sarah Vowell was one of the honored Authors who was interviewed on campus during this event. This interview alleviated any concern I had in regards to such “favoritism” and “dread.” Upon actively listening to Vowell’s quirky responses to her interviewer, it was our turn (the audience) to ask the questions. A young lady asked, “…who was your favorite President to write about in Assassination Vacation“, and without hesitation Vowell answered, “Abraham Lincoln has always been my favorite President to write about.” Immediately after responding, another member asked, “…which President did you dislike the most?” Sarah Vowell chuckled and replied, “[o]h it was totally Garfield. I absolutely dreaded writing about Garfield.” In addition, she was also interviewed by Robert Birnbaum, a Blogger for the online literary magazine Identity Theory. During this interview she mentioned that, “…because he was assassinated—he was only president a few weeks. So he didn’t really get to do that much…And it was a relatively undramatic period”. However, despite her sense of reluctance in researching his personal life, “…when reading his diaries, which I don’t exactly recommend—there are four volumes and there is a lot of filler”, she shows a desired effort of relaying his life story to the world. For example, when speaking with Mr. Birnbaum, she mentions the lack of commemoration in the world today for Garfield, and expresses how that was her motivation to continue on with her writings of his life. In one instance she says,

“the train station where Garfield was assassinated was torn down and now it’s the National Gallery of Art. They could put a plaque up… We have plaques for so many things. But for Garfield there is just no plaque.”

As mentioned previously, it doesn’t take an avid reader to notice her “dread” and “excitement” when writing about Garfield and Lincoln. However, these interviews have opened my eyes and reaffirmed my beliefs in the matter of her writing in a sense of, “Lincoln is my favorite” and “ugh, Garfield.” In addition to Vowell’s verbal admittance of favoritism, you can also find this evidence within the pages of her book. Vowell writes one of the many following passages that suggest favoritism and is read as follows, “[a] moment of whimsy actually opens me up for the Second Inaugural, a speech that is all the things they say-prophetic, biblical, merciful, tough” to describe Lincoln’s Second Inaugural (26). Let us not forget the following, “I always wondered how anyone who heard those words could kill the person who wrote them” (27). Comparing these quotes to the following about Garfield,

“The most famous thing ever said about President James A. Garfield is about how nobody has any idea who the hell he was…James A. Garfield is the deadest of dead men, so faceless that even a third grader who just got a gold star on her Garfield report would be hard-pressed to pick him out of a lineup.” (123)

Upon presenting to you my textual, verbal, and visual evidence of Sarah Vowell’s difference in her writing of the chapters on Lincoln and Garfield, I can only hope that my words, as well as Vowell’s, will assist in your understanding of said chapters, and will alleviate your questioning on her writing style in the sense of “favorite” and “dread” as it did me.

Works Cited

Vowell, Sarah. Assassination Vacation. Simon and Schuster. 2005.

Vowell, Sarah. Visiting Writers Series Interview by Mike Collins. 27 Oct. 2016, P.E. Monroe Auditorium, Lenoir-Rhyne U., Hickory, NC.

Vowell, Sarah. Sarah Vowell on Assassination Vacation by Robert Birnbaum. 27 July 2005, Identity Theory. Website.


‘Till Death

In Othello: A Modern Perspective, by Susan Snyder, she analyzes various reasons as to what caused the marriage of Othello and Desdemona to come to an end so soon. All the while, leaving no page unturned, she explains her reasoning in detail.

Snyder puts up a solid and convincing argument to say that Iago is to blame for the downfall of the marriage of Othello and Desdemona. She makes certain to direct the reader to the obvious – Iago’s hatred toward Othello. She begins by saying, “[t]he most obvious and immediate answer is Iago. It is he who plots to poison Othello’s happiness…” (287). However, even without Snyder’s guidance, any reader is capable of noticing Iago’s hatred for Othello early in the story. Such hatred is the fuel for his deceitful plans to ruin

Othello with Ian Merrill Peakes and Owiso Odera
Othello (left) and Iago (right).

Othello’s marriage. Evidence of such hatred can be discovered in mid-conversation, and with Iago speaking to Roderigo saying, “I have told thee often, and I will retell thee again, I hate the Moor… Let us be conjunctive in our revenge against him” (1.3.407-11). Upon Roderigo’s exit from the scene, Iago continues conversing among himself and plotting for the destruction of the aforementioned marriage, “[m]yself the while to draw the Moor apart and bring him jump when he may Cassio find soliciting his wife. Ay, that’s the way” (2.3.407-9). Iago spends this whole story feeding false information to Othello. Including the supposed affair that Desdemona has with Cassio. Evidence of his hatred and plotted destruction continues throughout the story, painting an image of Iago’s snake-like personality.

Despite what the reader may see as an obvious hatred stemming from Iago (and his deceitful planning), Othello remains oblivious, naive even. He has fallen into Iago’s trap, and has been blindsided by his “loyalty” which leads an untimely death (trying to avoid spoilers for other readers). Perhaps Othello’s naivety could even be interpreted as being optimistic? For example, Othello simply sees the good in everyone, and gives everyone a chance to show their true self. But because Iago’s plan from the beginning was to fool Iago, he played on this characteristic of Othello. Because of Iago’s trickery, I found myself yelling at my book and saying to Othello, “Don’t believe him! He’s lying to you!” If only it were that easy to achieve a truly happy ending.

Works Cited

Mowat, Barbara A. and Paul Werstine, eds. Folger Shakespeare Library: Othello by William Shakespeare. Simon and Schuster. 2009.

Snyder, Susah. “Othello: A Modern Perspective.” Folger Shakespeare Library: Othello by William Shakespeare, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Simon and Schuster, 2009. 287-98.

“Let’s Not Get A-head of Ourselves”

In Sarah Vowell’s, Assassination Vacation, in chapter one, Vowell recounts all of the

Credit:  http://www.simonandschuster.com

wonders that she had gained of our late president, Abraham Lincoln. With vivid detail, and quirky humor, Vowell escorts you down memory lane, sharing with you every bit of knowledge that she has absorbed on her vacations in regards to Lincoln’s assassination, with a sense of child-like wonder.

To say that Vowell shows a fascination towards Lincoln is an understatement. Although she might use the phrasing, “[t]o call this an understatement is an understatement” (26). Not only does her story of Lincoln’s assassination take up most of her book, but she also uses one of many following expressions that suggest favoritism towards Lincoln, “…with malice toward none. I revere those words. Reading them is a heartbreaker considering that a few weeks after Lincoln said them at the Capitol he was killed” (26).

Sarah Vowell uses her child-like wonder in such a nonchalant fashion, that her fascination towards Lincoln and his assassination is anything but mild. However, she seems to set you up for this by sharing with you her experience at the Lincoln Statue as she reads the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural under the feet of Lincoln saying, “[a] moment of whimsy actually opens me up for the Second Inaugural, a speech that is all the things they say-prophetic, biblical, merciful, tough” to describe Lincoln’s Second Inaugural (26), as well as “I always wondered how anyone who heard those words could kill the person who wrote them” (27). These two quotes, among many others, show her interpretation of the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural, shaping the rest of the chapter for you by showing you her sheer fascination for Lincoln himself, not just his assassination.

Upon reading, Assassination Vacation, Sarah Vowell has educated me of the lives and assassinations of our three late Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley in ways that my history classes never managed to do. Vowell’s humor, quirkiness, and fascinating wonder kept me reading, and wanting, more. Her particular fascination towards Abraham Lincoln is a wonderful introduction into her journey, and shows her readers what they can expect of her personality throughout her book.

Work Cited

Vowell, Sarah. Assassination Vacation. Simon and Schuster. 2005.

“What doesn’t kill you…”

Photo Credit, Amazon.

In John Crow’s Devil, in the chapter, “Wilderness”, Marlon James writes about one of the Widow Greenfield’s many rescue attempts on Hector Bligh. After the Widow has offered Bligh, the one thing that has been slowly killing him, in an attempt to save him, she explains to him her experience with the effects of liquor. Bligh then accused her of attempted murder, multiple times. Upon locking him up alone in his room, as requested, Bligh, among other things, began to hallucinate, seeing a naked version of his brother’s wife. However, a near seductive moment turns horrific quickly, when her face morphs into that of a skull, and she quickly vanishes, sending Hector into a holy screaming fit.

In my opinion, Widow Greenfield, after losing her husband, has finally found someone to care for again, making her feel useful, and even angry about the circumstances. I find it ironic that one of the guilty pleasures that killed her husband is now killing a man that has given her purpose once again. Not to mention, that same pleasure is also the one thing that is now supposed to rescue Hector in this passage. I feel that James Marlon conveys this irony by educating the reader on the background of who was once, Mrs. Greenfield. How her husband was tempted by sinful ways of alcohol and gave in to it, and the ways of an alcoholic. Marlon even makes a point to tell you (from the mouth of the Widow in some cases) how angry it made her, how often she took care of her husband, and the nights Mr.Greenfield spent in the same bedroom that Bligh is currently in. The significance of this irony to the narrative shows the reader, not only how patient the Widow is, but how much she desires a place in the world. How much she wants that second chance to prove to herself, or maybe even the town, that she is a significant being, a significant neighbor, a significant savior. Or maybe, she just desires a second chance to save another poor, lost soul.

Evidence of the aforementioned significance of the Widow’s purpose, “Me know man like you, you know…” (59). As well as, “Had she opened up her brokenness to him” (50)? In regards to Mr. Greenfield, “But Mr. Greenfield died young…God had saved her from seeing her husband’s death herself, but the drunkards saw. They said this of his death. He took four shots of rum, cursing his hard-to-please wife with each gulp, then walked in a straight line from barstool to door to road” (52).

Widow Greenfield has found a connection with Hector. As mentioned previously, I feel that she has encountered a second chance at saving someone that is losing their self, and their life, to alcohol. She seems to see this as an opportunity to have a purpose in life again. Revealing that her heroism is indeed helpful in many ways, and occurs on more than one occasion.


Work Cited

James, Marlon. John Crow’s Devil. Akashic. 2005.

*The GRANDEST adventure*

Hey, Hi, and Hello. My name is Sasha, and I am an alcoholic.
I am only kidding!
Actually, I am a 25 year old woman with no children, and I am engaged to the manager of the Carmike Movie Theater here in Hickory, NC.
happyAs  I mentioned earlier, we have no children. However, we do have fur-babies! The above photo shows just two of our three pups, Ginger (left) and Harley (right). Our Shih-Tzu decided to eat leaves during this photo instead. I named him Dobby (yes, that’s a Harry Potter character). Oh, and here he is:
Thankfully, I managed to find a guy that loves adventures and travelling as well. One of my adventures just happened to be my engagement at the, “Be Our Guest” restaurant in the Magic Kingdom at Disney. A moment that will forever be embedded into my memory. ♥