Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Take A Road Trip With Some of Your Favorite Authors!

Book Review: State by State, A Panoramic Portrait of America, edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey ($29.95)

Are you stuck home in the middle of this endless winter with nothing but a "staycation" in your immediate plans? Then come in, get this book and take your brain on a road trip. Some of your favorite authors are riding shotgun.

This book features 50 essays by well-known writers on the 50 states. The editors asked for a personal story about a state they grew up in, had lived in, or maybe just visited. They asked them for "the kind of story the enlisted soldier tells his boot-camp bunkmate about back home."

The result is a hip, funny collection of essays that will leave you feeling buoyant and nostalgic, sometimes laughing out loud. It includes Dave Eggers on Illinois, Susan Choi on Indiana, Ann Patchett on Tennessee, and Joshua Ferris on his family's move from Illinois to Florida when he was a kid. You're going to love Dave Eggers' piece, which somehow ranges from Abe Lincoln to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. (Did you know that Ronald Reagan was a Cubs announcer before he went to Hollywood?) Eggers' anecdote about running out of gas on I-57 on the way down to U of I will make you proud to be from the heartland.

To top it all off, there is a hilarious appendix that includes 30 different tables ranking the states in a variety of categories, including Roller Costers Per Capita (Illinois is 30th), Toothlessness Rate (Illinois is 25th), and Alchohol Consumption (Illinois moves up to 9th, behind our neighbor Wisconsin at #1. Anyone who's ever been to a Packer-Bears game knows exactly why that is. You need a little somethin' to wash down the brats and cheese curds!).

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