Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World
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Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  9,399 ratings  ·  612 reviews
Take the Cannoli is a moving and wickedly funny collection of personal stories stretching across the immense landscape of the American scene. Vowell tackles subjects such as identity, politics, religion, art, and history with a biting humor. She searches the streets of Hoboken for traces of the town's favorite son, Frank Sinatra. She goes under cover of heavy makeup in an...more
Paperback, 219 pages
Published April 3rd 2001 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2000)
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I realized reading this that I am familiar with this author from NPR's This American Life

Some of the essays captured my imagination, some did not. All in all it was a diverting read from the all that is occupying my time around her otherwise.

Take the Cannoli is a moving and wickedly funny collection of personal stories stretching across the immense landscape of the American scene. Vowell tackles subjects such as identity, politics, religion, art, and history with a biting humo...more
Dec 22, 2008 Ciara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs, NPR listeners, folks in need of massachusetts dinner party repartee
i wanted to like this book better than i liked it. at the end of the day, i like sarah vowell's writing: it's funny & engaging, it's smart & self-deprecating & informative. but there's so much strangely blind patriotism in here. yeah, it comes from a liberal perspective, what with vowell being all over NPR & being really critical of the bush administration & everything, but there's so much of, "if we could just fix these huge glaring problems with the government, this country...more
Sarah Vowell takes you with her on a series of adventures, challenges and bizarre dares. She is a modern day Huck Finn with a glass of scotch in her right hand and a biography of Andrew Jackson in the left. From shooting off cannons, learning to make a non sentimental mix tapes, to the bizarre not so wonderful world of Disney, learning to drive with Ira Glass, to going Goth for a night, to her obsession with The Godfather, she doesn't hold back and I love her for it.
The chapter "What I See When...more
Thomas Paul
You would think that reading and reviewing a book written ten years ago about American culture might be tricky. You would expect that so much has changed that a book like this would be more like a history lesson than a view into America. But surprisingly, in spite of all that has happened since the turn of the century, Vowell's essays are as true and as a vibrant as when she wrote them. I have to admit that I am a fan of Vowell ever since I read her book Assassination Vacation. The best part of...more
When I was returning The Wordy Shipmates, I saw the library had this book, so I went ahead and grabbed it. Like the first book of hers I read, I banged this out in a day.

This book is less history (which I believe is her "thing") and more personal, so unless you like the author as a person and voice, you can skip this book. This is more about her personal experiences of Americana, family, ancestry, high school, college, etc.

I liked it. Vowell is always funny. Her personal retracing of the Trail...more
I have heard wonderful things about Sarah Vowell, and I thought she would be great because she was funny on Gigantic, that documentary about They Might Be Giants. I’ve never heard her on This American Life, but Ira Glass and This American Life are great, so I bet she is, too. But I didn’t like her book. I must admit, toward the end I left huge chunks unread. I’d, like, get to a boring chapter and think “aw, hell no. Next!” and I’d start reading the next one and pretty much be equally disappointe...more
Reading Sarah Vowell always inspires in me the same reaction as watching/listening to a really cool kid did in high school (or, okay, now): I desperately want to hang with her. (Especially because she's also friends with fellow essayist David Rakoff, whom I adore; one of the pieces in this collection is about the two of them going to DisneyWorld, and I had resist the temptation to leap up from my couch, waving my hand and crying: 'Ooh, take me! Take me, too!') In these essays about growing up/...more
Having come off of the high of reading Assassination Vacation, I jumped headfirst into Take the Cannoli, a series of essays by Vowell that jumped from imploring television stations to not play "My Way" when Frank Sinatra would die (a plea that was prophetically ignored), to an essay exploring her separation from her father, a gun making republican to her New York loving Democrat, and the mending of that divide. Ranging from mildly annoying, in the way that performance artists are annoying in the...more
Reading Sarah Vowell for the first time was like finding a long lost friend that I never met before. There was an immediate familiarity - the sense of deja'vu: as though we shared these conversations at the cafe about the awkward teenage years, sibling rivalry, quirky family relationships and more.

I immediately recognized something of myself in her writing, as well as something inspirational. I can't gush too much: there's a few pieces in here that are dry. However, I think you have to be a lit...more
Enjoyed it. Essays on being an American, and all the contradictions that entails. Most difficult was the essay about doing "Heritage Tourism" along the Trail of Tears -- her struggles with what happened to the Cherokees along the Trail conflict with her knowledge that the tribe were slave-holders ... an extended meditation on the inherent contradictions of being American.

In other books, she has a theme running through -- this one is more a collection of essays written at various times, many for...more
Sarah Vowell amuses her readers with facts. That is not a mean feat. I learned about the Trail of Tears for the Cherokee Nation, and Sarah's self deprecating humor helped me deal emotionally with America's 19th century genocide. The essay "Take the Cannoli" is named for a line in The Godfather when one character blows another character's head into bloody jam and then advises his compatriot to leave everything behind except the pastries he bought for his wife.

To my delight, I found a dangling mod...more
I'm a big fan of Sarah Vowell's sarcastic writing style so I breezed through this book within 24 hours. Unlike most of her other books, this one is less of a romp through American history and more personal (but not any less enjoyable) with essays on her family and upbringing. A lot of the essays were quite funny. But I think I most appreciated her secret love affair with the Godfather films because it reminds me of my similar guilty pleasure of "Goodfellas."
Jun 24, 2009 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: jerks that listen to NPR
Mildly interesting collection of essays examining pop culture and American history. The author has a certain wit, and her essays are quite clever even if ultimately not particularly insightful. Happy well-adjusted people, even the quirky clever and observant ones, annoy me on some level. Sarah Vowell is like FDR before the polio bestowed to him a visceral understanding of the terror of life. I hope she finds a less painful avenue to that sort of wisdom.
Ted Hunt
I would say that this might be Sarah Vowell's most personal book, almost a memoir at first. She discusses her parents, her twin sister, her Oklahoma/Montana upbringing, and some of her high school memories. For me, the best part of the book was the description of the trip that she took with her sister along the Trail of Tears, which was how their Cherokee ancestors had come to live in Oklahoma. This section reminded me of "Assassination Vacation," my favorite book of hers. Unfortunately, much of...more
Lovely personal essays by Sarah Vowell--I do tend to prefer her longer, more historical essays that weave into a story (like Assassination Vacation), but she writes so clearly and amusingly, it's not like I dislike any of these. Best: her learning to drive, battling insomnia, playing in the band, shooting her dad.
Sarah Vowell is very funny, but she's also a great critic of popular culture, and specifically popular political history. She's always IN these essays, too, though -- I admire her courage to make it clear that she really cares about these issues.
Wes Ferguson
Sarah Vowell deploys remarkable wit, nerdy interests and an easy, accessible style to cover a huge range of subjects in her books. If I had a criticism of this collection of essays, it would be that sometimes she strives for resonant or emotionally evocative ending that don't really feel earned. They're kind of tacked on, almost like a non sequitur. Think David Sedaris. For me, the highlight here is her pilgrimage on the Trail of Tears, when the Cherokee Indians were forcibly relocated to Oklaho...more
"Take the Cannoli" is probably the best of the Vowell catalog. She writes with a breezy self-depreciation that never sounds forced or inauthentic. Good for planes and between harder books.
All American

1 oz bourbon whiskey
1 oz Southern Comfort peach liqueur
2 oz Coca-Cola

Serve with two ice-cubes.
Continuing on my Sarah Vowell binge, I picked up this early release, a compilation of essays previously published in other editions. My guess was that the title references the famous The Godfather line "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli" and I was correct; that film serves as an inspiration for an essay here as Vowell visited Italy partly due to her love of the film.

The essays here are varied in topic, mostly focusing on Vowell's life, pop culture often music, and American history. I think my seco...more
Sarah Vowell is both smart and smart ass -- if you've seen Jon Stewart interview her on The Daily Show, you know she does more than hold her own. She's a curious amalgam: she writes for NPR and yet revels in her "white trash" background.

All in all, Take the Cannoli is a very uneven collection of stories, which comes with the territory with a writer like Vowell. To grossly oversimplify, her style is to take whatever happens to be going on in her life or her mind at the moment and then whip it in...more
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

I probably should space out my Sarah Vowell reading. Just two weeks ago I finished Assassination Vacation and gave it a hyper-enthusiastic review with a 4.5 star rating. But that was because in addition to its charm it taught me quite a lot and made me want to learn more.

Take the Cannoli is a collection of Sarah's essays and spoken stories, most of the latter originally performed on This American Life, a public radio show. Even the essays give one the sense Sarah is read...more
Deedee Butterfuss
Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell was a rather funny book for the first few stories. They were funny and easy to read, but as the book progressed the stories were becoming mundane and harder to read. The middle of the book was definitely the hardest part to read. I struggled getting through the chapters. The genre of the book is non-fiction, short stories. I chose to read this book because the back of the book made it sound funny and it looked like it might be a good book. Take the cannoli is a n...more
Though Take the Cannoli is not her best work, I'm always a fan of Vowell's writing. Even when she plunges headlong into her most self-indulgent navel-gazing, she does it in an honest way.

For some reason, I wound up reading this book last, after reading Assassination Vacation (my favorite of hers), Wordy Shipmates, and all the rest as they were released. Vowell's latter-day efforts have the luxury of time, of focus, of exhaustive research. This, instead, is a collection of little essays, mostly d...more
Brian DiMattia
Perhaps this isn't Vowell's very best work. The learning to drive piece is a little too self indulgent, and the Frank Sinatra stories don't really go anywhere, but the rest is solid. It's her essay on her feelings, as a historian and someone of Native American heritage, towards Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears that make this one really memorable.

"What I See When I Look At The Face On The $20 Bill" sums up the humanity that made that incident one of the darkest and most shameful periods of...more
I'm glad this wasn't the first Sarah Vowell book that I read. Her essays in this early collection are sometimes entertaining, sometimes downright boring. I had to trudge through her tributes to Frank Sinatra and the Chelsea Hotel. Her essay on the Trail of Tears seemed all over the place: she's angry her ancestors suffered this unjustice, yet she's still proud to be an American. And, oh, one of her distant Indian relatives was still fighting in the Civil War after it was officially over. She sho...more
I enjoyed this, but this isn't my favorite Sarah Vowell book. Most of it was readable and witty, but overall I was glad that this was not my introduction to her work. I would recommend that the reader go on to any of her other books.

Still, some of the essays in this book were excellent, especially "Michigan and Wacker" and "What I See When I Look at the Face on the $20 Bill." In the former, Vowell takes in the sweep of American history as seen from a spot near the Chicago river.

In the latter, s...more
Chris Kawakita
Sarah Vowell is an American treasure. Her voice is distinctive—in print, on the radio (as contributing editor for This American Life for a number of years), and in person (I was at a reading of hers at a local university five-plus years ago). I’ve read all of her recent books, and now I’m getting around to reading her earlier ones. Assassination Vacation, in which she travels around the country with her sister and nephew to research the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, and Will...more
Quinn Rollins
One of my favorite American history authors is Sarah Vowell. Having first heard her short stories on NPR, and her quirky voice as Violet in the Pixar movie The Incredibles, her voice comes across in her writing just as well as it does in other media.

I've read or listened to three of her other books, all of which are about topics in American History that are sometimes overlooked by authors, and which she has a personal interest in. This is one of her earlier books, Take the Cannoli: Stories rom t...more
3.25 stars.

In this compilation of stories Vowell touches on all things American, from guns to Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp to Hoboken and the Trail of Tears. Okay, so it’s not all great American stuff, but it is American.

As funny as I find Vowell, I also find her slightly annoying. Yes, I get it, you’re a Democrat (and no, I’m not a Republican) who hates guns and are 1/1000 American Indian so you have to go on ad nauseum about anything relating to them, be it The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or the Tr...more
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Sarah Jane Vowell is an American author, journalist, humorist, and commentator. Often referred to as a "social observer," Vowell has authored several books and is a regular contributor to the radio program This American Life on Public Radio International. She was also the voice of Violet in the animated film The Incredibles and a short documentary, VOWELLET - An Essay by SARAH VOWELL in the "Behin...more
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“We are flawed creatures, all of us. Some of us think that means we should fix our flaws. But get rid of my flaws and there would be no one left.” 55 likes
“I have a similar affection for the parenthesis (but I always take most of my parentheses out, so as not to call undue attention to the glaring fact that I cannot think in complete sentences, that I think only in short fragments or long, run-on thought relays that the literati call stream of consciousness but I still like to think of as disdain for the finality of the period).” 38 likes
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