Laurie's Reviews > Assassination Vacation

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
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Jan 07, 2012

bookshelves: mooched, pb, history, travel, currently-reading

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Quotes Laurie Liked

Sarah Vowell
“A gifted violin player in danger of becoming a virtuoso and thus too attached to his instrument handed it over to the Oneida authorities and never played again. When a visiting Canadian teacher complained that the community did not foster “genius or special talent,” Noyes was delighted, replying, “We never expected or desired to produce a Byron, a Napoleon, or a Michelangelo.” You know you've reached a new plateau of group mediocrity when even a Canadian is alarmed by your lack of individuality.”
Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation

Sarah Vowell
“Back inside, I’m shown an antique cabinet in which members of the community, famous for their homegrown produce, dried herbs.

The Oneida Community was an upstate tourist attraction right from the start, second, Valesky says, to Niagara Falls. I’m taking the same guided tour offered a hundred and fifty years ago to prim rubbernecks who came here to peep at sex fiends. I wonder how many of my vacationing forebears went home disappointed? They thought they were taking the train to Gomorrah but instead they got to watch herbs dry. Valesky opens a drawer in the herb cabinet so I can get a whiff. He mentions that back in the day, when one tourist was shown the cabinet she rudely asked her community-member guide, “What’s that odor?” To which the guide replied, “Perhaps it’s the odor of crushed selfishness.” Valesky grins. “How about that for a utopian answer?” To my not particularly utopian nose, crushed selfishness smells a lot like cilantro.”
Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation


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