Quantcast

#453 ~ America, You Sexy Bitch


America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom by Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain

Published by: Da Capo Press

Published on: June 12, 2012

Page Count: 352

Genre: Political Commentary

My Reading Format: Hardcover review copy sent to me by Mandy Boles in order to participate in Mandy’s Blogger Book Club.

Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook

Note: I normally don’t read overtly political books nor do I regularly post about my political opinions. I’ve found that in an age where everyone seems to shout their political opinions from every outlet available, there are few people whose political opinions I’m actually interested in hearing. As such, I’m not going to discuss my politics within this review. I’m going to stick with covering the book as a whole.

So why am I reviewing this book today? That’s easy. When the Well-Read Wife announced Mandy’s Blogger Book Club, I couldn’t not participate. Mandy is someone I was happy to meet at BEA June. She is crazy and I swear to God that if we spent any amount of time together bail would eventually be required. She bought 50 copies of this book with her own money to create this book club. I simply had to come along for the ride.


My Review

Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain are different in just about every way. Michael is a man. Meghan is a woman. Michael is married. Meghan is single. Michael comes from a broken home. Meghan’s parents remain happily married. Michael is a forty something comic and actor. Meghan is a twenty soemthing political commentator. Michael is liberal. Meghan is conservative. As the result of an Ambien laced Twitter conversation, the two of them agree to travel across the United States together and see America through both sets of eyes and perhaps come to some kind of understanding with each other. While I think this book says more about the two authors than it does about America, it was an interesting look at the workings of a political mixed marriage of sorts.

Just as Michael and Meghan had issues figuring each other out and what their roles were together, I had issues as a reader.  The trip, which began in California and criss crosses across the South before heading North along the East Coast, didn’t click with me in the least until they reached Branson, Missouri, which I’ll address later. Their first destination that wasn’t a parent’s home was Las Vegas. This entire chapter got under my skin in a major way. While the authors are divided left and right, it was clear to me that neither of them had any concrete experience working in a typical office setting. So, when they were aghast and judgemental about work the environment at Zappos headquarters, my dander was raised in a major way. I’ve also taken the Zappos tour. As a woman who I has worked in an office setting almost exclusively since college, I found their workplace a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t at all fake. It felt completely genuine to me. It is so much different and so much better than any other office in which I’ve ever spent more than five minutes. If I didn’t have a husband’s happiness to take into consideration, I would have applied for a job and uprooted my family to move to Las Vegas a long time ago for the privilege of working there. As proof, I offer up these pictures:

My co-worker who took the tour with me drew this picture of me after the trip. Yes, I was that excited about my experience. And even over 4 years later, I still have my Zappos.com crown:

After the Zappos train wreck, the two ended up meeting some of Meghan’s friends and going to strip clubs. I suppose that Vegas and strip clubs go hand in hand and that is enough reason for going there as an exploration of American life, but I’m still at a loss for what that night was supposed to accomplish in terms of the book. Meghan tried too hard to have fun and look objectively at such professional choices. Michael was just a grump. He did not want to be there and he absolutely refused to participate. He may have felt he was abiding by his principles, but he made himself look stodgier than just about any stodgy old conservative. That section of the book left a bad taste in my mouth that lasted through the next 5  chapters.

That being said, the chapter about Branson was redeeming. It was there that both authors seemed the most vulnerable and honest with themselves. Michael begins their excursion snarkily self-righteous about this Middle American playground. Meghan begins it excited as ever, that is until they went to see Yakov Smirnoff . Meghan had an existential crisis about her life and her future as a result of her experience watching him perform. Yes, apparently the man is still alive and performing. I’ve had a number of these experiences and the trigger is never anything obvious. I could appreciate her fears and where she was coming from. Michael then dropped his cynicism during their time at Silver Dollar City. What he wrote about it was the most memorable statement made within the book:

I mean it when I tell Jim we need places like Silver Dollar City. As much as the word “Christian” makes me instinctively recoil because of its occassional sanctimoniousness, I do think there’s something valuable about places like Silver Dollar City where families can come and not hear bad language or see fights or drunkenness, where there are no jangly slot matchines or wet T-shirt contests. This place is squeaky clean, and I can feel my cynicism sloughing off like dead skin.

Of course, it’s also a totally artificial environment. As much as I enjoy being here, there’s no denying that it’s nothing more than a utopian mirage. As much as the Republicans try to paint Democrats as desiring some Marxist utopia, this place is basically that. Just replace the word “comrade” with “Christian.” There’s nothing wrong with either dream, I suppose, but that’s all they are. Utopias don’t exist in real life, regardless of their political or religious leanings, no matter how many roller coasters. (page 178)

As I mentioned in my note, I’m not a big political reader. After finishing this book, I can’t say that I got a lot out of their political discussions. In many ways, it felt like my Facebook friends and  my Twitter friends trying their best to have a civilized conversation. That they could discuss topics like gun control, health care, and the upcoming election without resorting to name calling was an achievement.  Neither changed their minds on any large issues, but I do believe they developed a deeper sense of respect for others who view the world differently from themselves. I can appreciate that.

As my first foray into Mandy’s Blogger Book Club, I wish I had enjoyed the selection better. Given the chosen title (which my daughter Allison took note of and was scandalized – she even called me “naughty” for reading the book), the uncomfortable first half and the equally awkward ending at Black’s home didn’t fit. I was expecting it to be funnier. I wondered throughout if Michael Ian Black’s sense of humor just didn’t translate well in print for me. There wasn’t much that made me laugh. This is one experience where reading outside of my standard genres did not pay off, despite how much I wanted to enjoy myself. I’m still happy to have participated in Mandy’s Blogger Book Club.

1 Comment

  • At 2012.08.15 12:51, bermudaonion(Kathy) said:

    I love the way you worked your Zappos experience into this post! I don’t think that book is for me because I hate politics.

    Read more from bermudaonion(Kathy)

    Wondrous Words Wednesday

    Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the butto[…]

    (Required)
    (Required, will not be published)

    %d bloggers like this: