Literary personality to speak at Eastern

A famous humorist writer will do a reading bringing her insights on the human condition tonight.

Sarah Vowell, author and commentator, will speak at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Dvorak Concert Hall of the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Vowell has traveled across the U.S. to places such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago reading from books and commenting on various issues.

She has been on National Public Radio’s This American Life since 1996.

“I’ve been a fan for a while and it turns out a lot of people here have heard her material and read her books,” said Dan Crews, director of promotions and publicity for the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Crews is familiar with two of Vowell’s books, “Assassination Vacation,” “Take the Canoli” and “The Wordy Shipmates,” which is about how she visited sites where American presidents were killed.

“She writes about odd, unique things,” Crews said.

Crews said the Doudna Fine Arts Center has housed dance acts, music acts and so on and wanted to have someone who did spoken word for once.

Crews enjoys Vowell’s humor.

“You get it when you read it,” he said. “Her observation of things we are familiar with are fascinating and it is interesting to hear her point of view.”

Dennis Malak, public functions supervisor of the Fine Arts Center, has heard Vowell on This American Life and enjoys her speeches about American lifestyles and her perceptions of them and thinks she is funny in the way she describes and relates things.

Malak said he likes that people who see Vowell can actually meet and interact with; unlike with Drake, who performed and left.

Dwight Vaught, the assistant dean of programming at Doudna, was to bring someone who could speak to multiple generations.

“Part of what we try to do is present different disciplines,” Vaught said. “She’s a recognized author with a particular style of humor and way of talking about American history, from pop culture to politics.”

Vaught said Vowell always makes the reader or listener think with her delivery and writing styles and is funny in a dry, sardonic way.

“Her voice, whether writing or speaking, surrounds a topic,” he said. “You can’t take one quote and say that’s her.”

Crews said people as far away as Indianapolis have called in for tickets.

She will read for an hour, then do a question and answer session for a half hour afterward and will also sign copies of her book.

Vowell has also appeared on a number of late-night talk shows, including the “Late Show with David Letterman,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

Vowell was also the voice of young superhero Violet Parr in the Academy Award-winning movie “The Incredibles.”

Heather Holm can be reached at 581-7942 or at [email protected]