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State by state a panoramic portrait of…
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State by state a panoramic portrait of America (edition 2008)

by Matt Weiland (Editor), Sean Wilsey (Editor), David Hirshey (Editor)

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352931,026 (3.73)7
Member:vpfluke
Title:State by state a panoramic portrait of America
Authors:Matt Weiland (Editor)
Other authors:Sean Wilsey (Editor), David Hirshey (Editor)
Info:New York, NY : Ecco, c2008.
Collections:Your library, Nook
Rating:****
Tags:United States, states, essays, anthology, writings, literary, information, Nook, American identity, contemporary America, geography, history, stories, travel

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State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America by Matt Weiland (Editor)

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» See also 7 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This collection of essays is a brilliant summer read. Short essays are digestible in between jaunts into the lake or the ocean, and a handful of them are laugh-out-loud funny. A few are lame (editors: you found a native North Dakotan and you couldn't find a native Texan??), and some are outstanding (Anthony Bourdain's New Jersey kicks all the other states' butts). I feel like I took a great road trip without having to drive through that boring-and-terrifying-all-at-once stretch of Pennsylvania with no gas stations and foresty hills hiding deer that want to jump in front of your car. ( )
  bkohl | Jul 9, 2013 |
I was not aware of this book when it was published in 2008, but am really glad to have stumbled across it now, working back from the essay on New York contributed by Jonathan Franzen and republished in his 2012 collection, Farther Away. It's clever, but others in the book are equally good, or better. State by State was inspired by a Depression-era series; the Works Progress Administration hired unemployed authors to write volumes on each of the (then 48) states. This time, it's a private venture, in one volume, but it's a treasure trove of essays by a diverse crew of writers, including William T. Vollman (California), Dave Eggers (Illinois), Ha Jin (Georgia), Jacki Lyden (Missouri), Louise Erdrich (North Dakota), and Alison Bechdel (Vermont, one of two entries in the form of comics), just to name a few. The author list is overweighted with residents of New York City and contributors to This American Life, but any collection of 50-odd essays is likely be skewed somehow. Collectively, the essays do a good job of reflecting the experiences of long-term residents, immigrants, folks who grew up and moved away, and temporary visitors. In some cases, particularly for the most personal essays, I finished an essay thinking, 'well, they spent ten pages on this state and never got out of the main cities', or, 'well, that may be one slice of that state, but it doesn't match my experience there at all' - but that ended up making the essays more rather than less interesting. Other authors make a real effort to survey their states. Some of my favorite contributions included: Dagoberto Gilb (Iowa, with a particular focus on migrant workers in the corn fields); Jack Hitt (South Carolina, on the transformation of Charleston); Randall Kenan (North Carolina, a triptych on pigs); Jhumpa Lahiri (Rhode Island, one immigrant family's experience). Virtually all were worth the time. ( )
  bezoar44 | Mar 31, 2013 |
As with all collections with essays by various authors, the results are somewhat uneven. However, I can’t imagine anyone who lives in or has traveled extensively in the United States not being interested in how the states they have lived in or visited are portrayed. I was thrilled that Anthony Bourdain took on my home state of New Jersey (and did a good job with it), and I thought it fitting that Oregon’s entry was one of the few in the form of a “comic” strip (which prominently featured rain and umbrellas). Looking back now, the essay I remember the most fondly was Dave Eggers’s take on Illinois. Although I read this book straight through, I think the better approach would be to read one or two states a day—or just dip your toes in every so often. In addition to the essays, there are little factoids about each state that were interesting in their own right. ( )
1 vote Jenners26 | Jan 9, 2013 |
I read this collection of essays as a companion to the 50 states reading challenge. After I completed a book for a state, I read the essay about that state. Although it took more than two years to read the book that way, I think the pace was suited to the nature of the book. It's the sort of book you periodically dip into, rather than one you read in the span of a few days.

The book was inspired by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. The editors commissioned essays on each state, instructing the writers to “Tell us a story about your state, the more personal the better, something that catches the essence of the place...The kind of story the enlisted soldier tells his boot-camp bunkmate about back home.” The authors followed these instructions. The only similarity among the essays is their length. The content highlights the diversity that still exists in the U.S.

A few of the essays were so negative that they quenched any desire I might have had to visit that state. Other essays made me want to hop in the car and head for that state to experience what the author had experienced there. My favorite essays include “Georgia” by Ha Jin, “Missouri” by Jacki Lyden, “New York” by Jonathan Franzen, and “Ohio” by Susan Orlean.

There's enough variety in the collection that there is surely something that will appeal to every reader. It would be a great gift, especially for those hard to buy for people on your gift list. ( )
  cbl_tn | Nov 20, 2011 |
I tried to read this book four or five months ago, but I noticed that the cover of the book has a banner that says: Take Pride In Your County. Well, taking pride in America has been impossible for the last eight years, so I realized I had to wait until after the election to see if reading the book would be possible. I am glad that I read it after all. Each entry is written by a different writer with a connection, sometimes tenuous, to the state in question. The writers have been given great latitude in what they can write. Because of this, some entries are much better than others. Some amount to nothing more than a writer describing what it was like to grow up in a certain part of a state, while others have a broader historical sweep. Personal memoirs are not necessarily bad, however, and neither does historical mean good. The weakest entry is Kentucky's, which tells tells the story of an obscure historical figure. On the other hand, Joshua Ferris's entry on Florida-nothing more than the story of his growing up in the Florida Keys in the 70s and 80s, is one the best. Now that we can all take pride in our country again, reading this book is a great way to be reminded of why America is a great country. ( )
  markfinl | Oct 16, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Weiland, MattEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilsey, SeanEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Ali, Mohammed NaseehuAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beal, DaphneAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bechdel, AlisonAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blythe, WillAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bock, CharlesAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bourdain, AnthonyAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brockmeier, KevinAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brownstein, CarrieAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Choi, SusanAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clark, JoshuaAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Connors, PhilipAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doerr, AnthonyAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggers, DaveAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Erdrich, LouiseAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferris, JoshuaAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franzen, JonathanAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fuller, AlexandraAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilb, DagobertoAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldberg, MylaAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Greenberg, PaulAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hannah, BarryAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henriquez, CristinaAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hinton, S.E.Authorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hitt, JackAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hogdman, JohnAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horwitz, TonyAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jin, HaAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Julavits, HeidiAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kenan, RandallAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kunkel, BenjaminAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lahiri, JhumpaAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, AndreaAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, JimAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lyden, JackiAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matt Weiland & Sean WilseyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Millet, LydiaAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moody, RickAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orlean, SusanAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Packer, GeorgeAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patchett, AnnAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Payne, AlexanderAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Phillips, Jayne AnneAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rakoff, DavidAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sacco, JoeAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sayrafiezadeh, SaïdAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Tara BrayAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, John JeremiahAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, CraigAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vollmann, William T.Authorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vowell, SarahAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Washington, ElleryAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061470902, Hardcover)

Editors Sean Wilsey and Matt Weiland have turned to 50 of the finest, funniest, and foremost writers in America to create a state by state celebration of their country: Jonathan Franzen on New York, Louise Erdrich on North Dakota, Dave Eggers on Illinois, Ann Patchett on Tennessee, Jhumpa Lahiri on Rhode Island-the list goes on. At turns poignant and hysterical, and uniformly insightful, these fifty writers capture the beauty, the kitsch, the unexpected and the quintessential things that make America. There is something and someone in "State by State" for everyone. With a roster of bestsellers and award winners, from Ann Patchett to Rick Moody to Myla Goldberg, Wilsey and Weiland have culled the best of the best from the literary creme de la creme to write on something all Americans are interested in: our country.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The editors of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup collects original writings on all fifty states by leading novelists, journalists, and essayists, in a volume that includes such examples as Anthony Bourdain on New Jersey, Dave Eggers on Illinois, and Louise Erdrich on North Dakota.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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