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Queenan Country: A Reluctant Anglophile's Pilgrimage to the Mother Country [NOOK Book]

Overview


In this hilarious romp through England, one of America's preeminent humorists seeks the answer to an eternal question: What makes the Brits tick?

One semitropical Fourth of July, Joe Queenan's English wife suggested that the family might like a chicken vindaloo in lieu of the customary barbecue. It was this pitiless act of gastronomic cultural oppression, coupled with dread of the fearsome Christmas pudding that awaited him for dessert, that ...
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Queenan Country: A Reluctant Anglophile's Pilgrimage to the Mother Country

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Overview


In this hilarious romp through England, one of America's preeminent humorists seeks the answer to an eternal question: What makes the Brits tick?

One semitropical Fourth of July, Joe Queenan's English wife suggested that the family might like a chicken vindaloo in lieu of the customary barbecue. It was this pitiless act of gastronomic cultural oppression, coupled with dread of the fearsome Christmas pudding that awaited him for dessert, that inspired the author to make a solitary pilgrimage to Great Britain. Freed from the obligation to visit an unending procession of Aunty Margarets and Cousin Robins, as he had done for the first twenty-six years of their marriage, Queenan decided that he would not come back from Albion until he had finally penetrated the limey heart of darkness.

His trip was not in vain. Crisscrossing Old Blighty like Cromwell hunting Papists, Queenan finally came to terms with the choochiness, squiffiness, ponciness, and sticky wicketness that lie at the heart of the British character. Here he is trying to find out whose idea it was to impale King Edward II on a red-hot poker-and what this says about English sexual politics. Here he is in an Edinburgh pub foolishly trying to defend Paul McCartney's "Ebony and Ivory." And here he is, trapped in a concert hall with a Coventry-based all-Brit Eagles tribute band named Talon who resent that they are nowhere near as famous as their evil nemeses, the Illegal Eagles. At the end of his epic adventure, the author returns chastened, none the wiser, but encouraged that his wife is actually as sane as she is, in light of her fellow countrymen.


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Editorial Reviews

Allison Pearson
In 2002, the author set out on a solo journey around Britain, hoping to write a book that would capture ''the feelings, both positive and negative, that I have developed toward my wife's native land.'' What he has ended up producing is a picaresque, a string of loosely linked adventures that recall the work of his English literary heroes Laurence Sterne and Tobias Smollett, those grouchy masters of comic digression.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Humorist Queenan calls this account of his 2002 trip to Great Britain "an affectionate jeremiad," conveying both his emotional ambivalence and displaying his favorite rhetorical device, the oxymoron. The West End musical We Will Rock You is "triumphantly cretinous"; a village woman is "belligerently harmless"; the museum curator wears an "ecstatically sober dress," etc. More broadly, contradiction is basic both to Queenan's humor and to his love-hate relationship with the British. He loves their "arch phrasing, infectious understatement and delightful euphemisms," just as he hates when all that posturing culminates in "the twit," that "master of rehearsed eccentricity." As with many travel accounts, one learns more about the traveler than about the locale. Queenan is a connoisseur of bad art; he can endure roomfuls of bad paintings at the Tate, just to make naughty remarks about the "insidious" hairstyles of yesteryear. Madame Tussaud's? It's "insufficiently absurd... nowhere near as bad as it ought to be." Conversely, he's thrilled to book a room at Durham's 500-year-old castle, complete with ghosts and a view of the cathedral. Indeed, the "American Dream," as Queenan explains it, is to stand on a fog-swept London street, watching the bobbies and dodging the double-deckers. As he says, there "isn't anything in the world better than riding a London double-decker bus." Hand-sell to the tweedies? Agent, Joseph Vallely. (Nov. 4) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Prolific social critic Queenan (True Believers, 2003, etc.) considers Queen (but not much) and country (more, from Glasgow to Penzance) and delivers the age-old I-kid-because-I-love-you hustle. Because the subject can't be encompassed in one volume, it's far from a comprehensive Baedeker. At times, Queenan offers a Perelman-on-the-road style, sometimes it's Mencken-at-home, on occasion it's snarky and usually persnickety in its take on Old Blighty. From the heydays of Boadicea and Richard the Lion Heart to Churchill and Thatcher the Iron Heart, things, in Queenan's view, haven't changed much. His British spouse always knew, we can be sure, that Noddy's car goes "parp!" and is never dismayed by clotted cream. Britons at home are still endearingly crazy, even fruitcake nuts. From York to Liverpool, from Hadrian's Wall to Tintern Abbey, he finds wonderful eccentricities and appalling pop-culture artifacts. In the latter category, the author places most of West End theater (case in point: The Mouse Trap) and the oeuvre of Sir Paul McCartney. Indeed, there's much blather about musical taste with undue regard to Liverpuddlian tribute bands. While Sting is okay, Christopher Hogwood needs some correction, and Lloyd Webber's crimes, we're reminded, are horrendous. As a child, the author was captivated by Beau Geste and the myth of the inflexible upper lip. High in the Highlands, cozy in the Cotswolds, and besotted with history-of which there is simply too much-Queenan rants about legend in Glastonbury, choochiness in London, and all things twee. In its juicier moments, this apple doesn't fall far from the twee, though the usually dyspeptic author notes that he's personally "more sarcastic thanarch." Waxing wroth, Queenan gets our British cousins to show us their knickers. They get up his nose, so he hits our funny bones in this antic panto. With a comic crumpet, Queenan leaves his love in Albion. It's a bit of alright, Percival.
From the Publisher
"New York writer Joe Queenan ventures into Bill Bryson territory with this amused and amusing look at Blighty." —San Francisco Chronicle

"The book is less a pilgrimage, more a voyage round Joe Queenan's head. . . . his extensive knowledge of popular music, his lovely reveries on books and reading, his occasionally nonchalant way with facts, and his sly humor."—Allison Pearson, The New York Times

"Very much a travel book, but a particularly funny and interesting one."—William Georgiades, New York Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429900829
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 695,691
  • File size: 249 KB

Meet the Author


The bestselling author of True Believers and Balsamic Dreams, Joe Queenan is a contributing writer at Men's Health and writes regularly for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He lives in Tarrytown, New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2014

    If you're interested in learning about what types of West End mu

    If you're interested in learning about what types of West End musicals the author likes, which is his favorite Beatle, or the exact process
    of how he determined that he was going to take a tour of the four cities housing Wallace's remains, then this book is for you.  However,
    if you're looking for humorous and personable insight into the destination of Joe Queenan's "pilgrimage", you are probably going to be very
    disappointed.  Joe Queenan seems to be far too absorbed in himself to bother spending much time telling us anything about the places he
    visited. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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