Tuesday, November 2, 2010

From the Shelves: Stephen Fry in America

I read Stephen Fry in America this past weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is potentially risky to read a comedian's take of your country, particularly when you know that there is much to criticize or mock. However, while the book was funny, the humor was in no way mean spirited. Fry has a genuine affinity for the US but the book also wasn't fawning. He really did an amazing job of highlighting different elements about each state and giving pertinent historical information where applicable. I can honestly say that I managed to learn new things about each state and about my fellow countrymen. I will never get over the picture of a six year old riding a sheep at the junior cowboy rodeo he visited. (I will double check the book to get the exact name and location).

I did find it disappointing that he didn't truly visit three states (Delaware, Ohio and Idaho), and that he only visited Arlington Cemetery in Virginia and Asheville in North Carolina, but I realize that he did have time constraints. I'm sure anyone reading his book from other states will also point out things he missed in their home states. I do hope he does a sequel (I can give him tons of recommendations for Virginia and North Carolina), and I would love to see the footage he shot for the BBC special that was the point of the whole trip. At any rate, the book was a lot of fun and if you teach sixth grade social studies or state history in elementary school it would be a great place to start to discuss what he missed in his visit to either the country as a whole or a state in particular.