The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Humorist author Vowell speaks

As part of her speech Friday, Sarah Vowell said doing what a person loves also includes doing a lot of things they dislike.

“Do you want to be happy or do you want to struggle?” Vowell said, following with a story about how she got seasick once on a boat trip in Key West, Fla., while doing research.

Vowell did a reading from a column she wrote for The New York Times about how Rhode Island should keep its longer and more offensive name “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”

The reason for the name change was because the word plantation conjured up images of slavery for some.

Vowell disagreed and said there was no slavery at the Providence Plantations’ Founding.

“(There was) just one weird white man with a dream,” Vowell said.

Vowell also read from a book she contributed to, “You’re a Horrible Person, But I Like You.”

The book consists of letters written and answered by the author.

One letter was about a woman who had a crush on a librarian and did not know what to do about it.

Vowell read from the part where she told the woman to give the librarian black and white photographs of possible date locations and that this would interest the librarian.

She also read from her newest book, “The History of 19th Century Hawaii,” and spoke about the Oneida Indian tribe.

When asked if she went to college to become a writer, Vowell said she did not attend college to write non-fiction and that she went from a music major to an art major and wrote for her college newspaper.

Vowell was also asked what her favorite authors are. She cited Herman Melville, David Brooks, Ian Fraser and Geoff Dyers as some of her favorites.

Vowell said she really enjoyed Dyer’s book, “Out of Sheer Rage,” about how writing a book is about little writing and more fretting, and said she could relate to this as an author.

Vowell was also asked if she has to travel incognito by an audience member and said no, that her fame was more of a public radio fame instead of actual fame, and said she got her humor from her “smart-alecky” relatives when asked where her delightful sense of humor came from.

Some audience members came because they were familiar with her work.

“I came because I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time,” said Anne Higley, from Bloomington, Ind. “My husband is a political history buff, so he enjoys her and her books. She has a unique, delightful way of revealing the history we never knew.”

Rick Anderson, a Charleston resident, has read her books and heard her distinctive voice on National Public Radio.

Vowell said she never really set out to write about history.

“I read one document about (the) Cherokee Trail of Tears because my ancestors were on the Trail of Tears,” she said. “In my research, I found that I did not enjoy the historic writing I had to read. I thought there was a place for writing about history that was coherent and lively.”

Heather Holm can be reached at 581-7942

or at [email protected].

Humorist author Vowell speaks

Humorist author Vowell speaks

Sarah Vowell reads from her best selling book “The Wordy Shipmates” Friday evening in the Dvorak Concert Hall in The Doudna Fine Arts Center. (Audrey Sawyer/The Daily Eastern News)


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