I Am America (And So Can You!)


in Books and literature, Politics

Drawn faces

Stephen Colbert is famously critical of books. He should probably have retained his skepticism rather than publishing I Am America (And So Can You!). Without the benefit of his live delivery, his style of humour is not particularly effective and most of what the book covers is well worn ground for avid watchers of The Colbert Report. Colbert is at his best when he is dynamic; he does not sit well on motionless pages.

The book is not entirely without entertaining elements, but does not do enough overall to justify the price or the time.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

. November 22, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Review from The Onion’s A.V. Club

While I Am America doesn’t approach the comic density of Jon Stewart’s America (The Book), it achieves a compelling state of altered consciousness, where the gut from which truth emanates turns out to be a coiled small intestine, a tangle where visitors from a rational universe can easily get lost in the hypnotically waving villi of infinite regress.

. November 22, 2007 at 1:25 pm

NY Times review

The show is sharp and innovative in ways that could have followed it to the coffee table, but that hasn’t happened. The full-monty Colbert television brilliance doesn’t quite make it to the page…

Mr. Colbert and his staff write for a particular character with impeccable, deadpan delivery, and there is no book-worthy equivalent of what happens when the real McCoy gets near a microphone. The printed speech falls surprisingly flat. Neither this chapter nor the rest of “I Am America” is helped by little red annotations in the margins, though these, too, mimic a tactic that happens to be funny on TV.

Emily Horn November 22, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Quote: He should probably have retained his skepticism rather than publishing I Am America (And So Can You!).

I agree that the humour falls a little flat on the pages, occasionally to the point where it is so obtuse that you glaze over, searching hopefully for redeeming bits and pieces of Colbert-esque satire. As per the television show, it pulls together a mosaic of some of the least sensical ideas floating around our fair West, and presents them in an easily digestible manner for us to reflect upon, sadly. But, the book does it less entertainingly.

I think viewed as a piece of comic relief, it is fairly unremarkable. But, I do think it’s an interesting indicator of our publishing standards (obviously they are very low), which he may be tongue-in-cheek getting at.

If nothing else, his stupidly determined expression on the cover of the book is a happy reminder that there is a growing audience that fears the vapid, flag-worshipping, under-educated, self-righteous mindset of a number of Americans.

Litty November 23, 2007 at 10:19 am

I will spend my book buying dollars on something else.

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