It should be no surprise to anyone that we live in a nostalgia driven world. I mean, take a look at the movies and TV shows that are coming out and you’ll see many appeals to our nostalgia, some predatory, some not. It’s nostalgia that started me on the road of rereading all the Baby-Sitter’s Club books and looking back at the things I’d read as a kid as an adult. It can almost feel like opening up a time capsule to peer inside when you crack open an old book again, looking back into the past with every turned page.
“One night last summer, all the killers in my head assembled on a stage in Massachusetts to sing show tunes.
And so we begin our journey down the Assassination Vacation rabbit hole that is Sarah Vowell’s obsession with presidents who were assassinated. She’s determined to go on a road trip and to immerse herself in the macabre details that were a part of what made America the country it is today. Sarah Vowell, a self-confessed weirdo, is joined on some of her trip by her patient sister and her nephew who might just be taking a little too much after her.
I feel like we’re all hardwired to be suckers for good mysteries. It doesn’t have to be murder all the time (although my podcast lineup would beg to disagree), but when there’s something unknown, human nature drives to to try and figure it out. If there was the chance of foul play, especially with a huge fortune on the line, it can be hard to shrug your shoulders and walk away.
Empty Mansions feels a bit like a non-fiction carnival that has a little bit of everything, or perhaps it would be better described as an eclectic museum that has strange exhibits that you wouldn’t think were connected to each other at all. What does political corruption, Japanese paintings, dollhouses made to scale, running around the wild west, and ornate empty mansions have in common? If you were to walk into a museum and see these exhibits in place, they would probably seem bizarre.
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