Sarah Vowell on KCRW’s Bookworm

Sarah Vowell is a total dork. Need proof? Here she is, pictured with sex columnist/writer/podcaster Dan Savage, and Ira Glass and Jonathan Goldstein from PRI’s “This American Life.”

Print & Radio dorks

Print & Radio dorks

Just being allowed in that picture ensures you that she sports some sincere 21st century hipster/nerd cred. However, she still primarily contributes her art in a floundering medium: printed books. She’s on tour to promote her latest, entitled The Wordy Shipmates, and subsequently stopped by Southern California public radio station KCRW to discuss it with Michael Silverblatt of the show “Bookworm.” He’s a fantastic interviewer of authors, if a bit snore-inducing at times. (It might be the aural eqiuvalent of Sleepytime Tea.)

Listen if you dare to Silverblatt get wrapped up in pop-culture references and subsequently diminish Ms. Vowell’s study of American Puritans to stories of the Brady Bunch and Happy Days. Also, marvel in the fact that Vowell seems to be put on the defensive, and is so unsure of exactly what position she’s supposed to defend. He also throws in a pop-culture reference of his own when he calls her the Mr. Kotter most kids never have as a teacher. It’s equally frustrating and entertaining to listen to.

You should also consider picking up Ms. Vowell’s book The Wordy Shipmates, as well as her other published works. Seriously, don’t even attempt to resist the powerful nerd/indie credibility you so desire.


Posted on November 26, 2008, in Books and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Michael Silverblatt is the most boring human being in the world. They should not let him on the radio in the day time when people might be driving a car.

    I have Wordy Shipmates on audio book, which I plan to listen to on the way home from my Thanksgiving trip. In a prior year’s Thanksgiving road trip, I listened to Vowell’s The Partly-Cloudy Patriot, which I recommend.

  2. I actually sort of like Silverblatt’s technique of interviewing authors, but it really doesn’t work on radio. He just recently re-posted his interview with David Foster Wallace, around the time of Infinite Jest. (You know, that classic modern novel that many have attempted to read only to find a better use for it as a doorstop.)

    He and DFW go spinning off on tangents that are eerily reminiscent of the novel itself. And while it’s not always germane to the novel, it’s oddly calming like watching the tide roll in. I do agree with you, though. “Bookworm” is like white noise, and dangerous to those operating heavy machinery.

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