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State by State

A Panoramic Portrait of America

By Sean Wilsey, Matt Weiland

State by State
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2008,
    608 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2009,
    608 pages.

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There are currently 18 reader reviews for State by State
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Sherrill (11/04/09)

State by State
what I liked about the book was each author knew about the state he or she was talking about. It was very informative and at the same time reminded me of an illustrated version of John Steinbeck's travels with Charlie and a book by Charles Kuralt about different regions but neither author was from the states about which they talked. I really liked the cartoons of Oregon and Vermont.The photos, in the book also. When friends and I have talked recently about a state I get my book State by State and we read about it. Also I have promised several people they can borrow my book when I am finished and read it. they are very interested in that. I highly recommend this book.
Sande (11/04/09)

The Best Vacation I've Had Without Leaving Home
If you're looking for a snapshot of every state in the union, plus the District of Columbia and don't have the money or time this year for a visit: State by State is a great book to read. The editors have solicited essays, and in one case a cartoon essay, by some very talented authors who give a very personal panorama of their state. Though it is loosely based on the Depression era WPA guides, here each view is as different in style and perspective as the the state itself. I found myself attracted to states where I have lived: New York, Wyoming, Ohio and DC. Then places I have spent a lot of time and finally drive-by locations and virgin territory. I enjoyed them all. Accompanying each essay is a one-page almanac listing of the population, state flower, age distribution, etc. and the end of the book are Bureau of Census tables ranking states according to all sorts of arcane groupings. In the end though, the appeal of this book is the affect the states have on the authors and their lives. It is a fun, thought-provoking book that you can pick up whenever the wanderlust hits you and you are stuck at home.
Eileen (11/04/09)

State by State
State by State, a book with an essay for each state, is a literary work first, and secondly a historical work. Fifty eclectic writers have presented their assigned states with different focuses, i.e. personal, historical, comical, complimentary, and insulting.

If you enjoy the travel writings of Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck, or Bill Bryson, this is your book. If you enjoy periodicals, such as The New Yorker or the Oxford American, this is your book.

It is a book to place next to your chair, so you can read a chapter every so often. I plan to re-read my copy in that fashion.
Darra (11/04/09)

E Pluribus Unum...and How!
If you’ve ever wondered about the 21st-century relevance of our national motto—Out of Many, One—wonder no more. This fascinating collection of 50 essays, one per state, each penned by a different writer, is a tour de force of letters and lore, affirming both the rugged individuality and the common threads that personify the American Experience. Each narrative opens with a mini-almanac of state facts; the compendium is enhanced with appendices of relevant tables and a signature of photos, the latter provided by the individual authors.

The essays are eclectic in content and style. The iconic Merritt Parkway surfaces as central metaphor in the mini-memoir penned by Connecticut native son, Rick Moody. John Hodgman’s riff on the uniqueness of Massachusetts is delivered with the dry wit of the observational humorist. Jonathan Franzen attempts a tongue-in-cheek interview with New York State. Daphne Beal waxes nostalgic about the life “ballast” cemented by her Wisconsin childhood. Joe Sacco (Oregon) and Alison Bechdel (Vermont) employ the comic strip to tell their stories. Some entries are love songs to “the old home state,” others chronicle the immigrant experience, still others recall a temporary, but memorable sojourn to the state in question.

Despite the diversity of subject matter and tone, there are certain recurring threads. The decimation and continued isolation of the native peoples; the emergence (or exacerbation) of intrastate political and geographical polarities; concern for the environment: these oft-repeating themes demonstrate that, regardless of our individual experiences, we do—on occasion—think as one.

State by State is the kind of book you can swallow in a gulp, or savor state by state as the mood moves you. It would make a great book club read; if your group is feeling particularly ambitious, pair it up with Travels with Charley, Steinbeck’s 1962 classic.
Vy (11/04/09)

State by State A Panoramic Portrait of America
“A road trip in book form” is how the editors of State by State describe their book. They believe that in spite of America becoming more homogeneous each year, it still retains an essential deep-grained variety. The search for each state’s differences in landscape, topography, political outlook, social ideals and cultural preference resulted in a unique composite of America that can be enjoyed at many levels.

It will appeal to those who like facts, as each state’s selection is preceded by twenty-two statistics from motto to geographic center to median age. It will appeal even more to readers who want to experience a state through the eyes of a variety of writers. Some writers were chosen who were native to the state, others who had never been there and presented a fresh eye approach, but each writer was told to tell a story, a personal experience, that captured the essence of the state. It can be read cover to cover in alphabetical order or one can first hop-scotch to the states lived in to see if this writer’s experience is similar to theirs. It’s a fascinating read which includes ten pages of images, (photos, paintings) also selected by each writer for their state, which they felt captured the “visual” essence. I recommend it as a great resource for both historical and literary value.
Barbara (11/04/09)

America the Beautiful
State by State is beautifully written and informative.
Each author focuses on his or her experience in that state and this personal view left a lasting impression on me. Also,there are 30 interesting comparison tables on topics such as cigarette & oil consumption , & education expenditure per pupil. In addition, each state 'story' is preceded by a list of facts such as state capital, bird, flower, tree, motto etc. which can be helpful to crossword puzzle enthusiasts.

My only criticism is that some stories are too skewed, focusing only on a city or a certain aspect of that city while ignoring the rest of the state.

However, this book has intensified my love for the United States and her people. It would appeal to all who are curious about our country. State by State will enrich a classroom and school library.
Phoenix (11/04/09)

A Great Road Trip - State by State
This is not a boring public relations hype about each state. The reader gets to meet interesting characters in every location. We are introduced to the wicked and the wise.

Each author's style is so refreshing. They express pride in their state, but are honest regarding some embarrassing parts of their history.

The reader will want to visit the landscapes described in this book. Who knows what wonders we will find. Carrie Browstein ends her view of Washington State by saying, "...There will always be wilderness to discover, and wilderness we'll never know."

Start planning your adventure now and don't forget to pack State by State.
Tracy (11/04/09)

Exceptionally Entertaining
If you think even for a second that this book might be fun, of interest or perhaps even provocative - then follow your instincts. It is fun, interesting and provocative. The stories that are told are hilarious, poignant, raunchy, layered and deeply personal. I was interested in this book when it was first published but hesitated to buy it. I jumped at the chance to review it and I have not been disappointed - and in fact feel lucky to have been handed a copy.
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