Hello, Hubsters . . .
And members of the great and always re-becoming greater Colbert Nation. About two months ago, we celebrated the release of the newest manifesto from our leader, Mr. Stephen Colbert. By now, I am sure you all own and have studied this majestic work and its red, white, and blueprint. Inquiring minds want to know what you think! STEPHEN wants to know what you think. As he pointed out, he “is a humble man,” and a little ego-feeding is in order.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that I believe America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t is even better than I Am America . . . And So Can You. To me, it brilliantly reveals the richness of Colbert and staff’s political satire–which definitely reached its apex this past election year. If the first book took off from Stephen’s character, the self-proclaimed “well-meaning idiot” he plays, this new work paints on a larger canvas. Just like the gorgeously designed chapter opening images, it’s in 3-D—ideas and fun on a deeper scale. I think the more you read the book, the more you’ll discover that you missed on the first go. In fact, the shift in perspective is right there in the title, in the move from “I Am” to “America Again.” From the personal to the political.
It seems to me that this second (adult) book is profoundly connected to the evolution of the Report, which has grown sharper and sharper as its targets have grown ever more worthy of skewering. When I look at America Again compared to the (admittedly wonderful) I Am America, I can feel the changes in the show reflected in its pages–changes in keeping with the altered and fragmented state of the nation. That’s why Stephen’s mock title does really sound so much like the actual names of so many recent political tomes. Stephen has truly gauged the zeitgeist, and what’s nice is that his book came out virtually side-by-side with those others. He’s not reacting to their books; he’s capturing the combative, often-toxic American atmosphere.
As someone who has worked in publishing for a very long time, I’d like to give a shout-out to the book’s editor. It’s easy to see what a complicated job this manuscript must have been to edit; it’s not an easy, flowing narrative, and my bet is that it came to the editor without images so (s)he had to envision what it would look like with the words and pictures juxtaposed. And then, there’s that very special point of view and tone. I know I’d feel intimidated at marking up something that came from Stephen and his writers, because no one knows “Stephen’s” voice better than they do. Speaking of images: my second, very loud shout-out must go to the designers. Almost never have I seen a humor book that’s so beautifully, elaborately, and even lovingly fashioned. When you look at it closely, it’s stunningly complex: the photo research itself must have taken a ton of time. Plus, it even feels good to pick up and hold—the best argument against an e-book. (Though I read those too.) And am I a terrible person for finding those cover photos of a bruised and black-and-blue Stephen really attractive? All in all, it’s clear that every detail was carefully considered, from the under-the-jacket cover picture of Stephen in his 3-D glasses amidst a sunburst to the mock-egotistical self-endorsement on the back, to the copyright page with its spiraling type. There’s not a single thing that’s less than extraordinary.
Of course, what I really want is to hear all YOUR thoughts. Was America Again the book you were expecting? How do you compare it to I Am America? Did you like the 3D effects and the glasses? And what is your favorite thing about the book? Also, I myself have not yet heard the audiobook. For those of you who have, please share your opinions!
Now for everyone, here are a few reviews, interviews, and other publicity about the book to enjoy.
Why does America have the best healthcare system in the world? Stephen tell us in the exclusive clip, done just before the book’s release for Entertainment Weekly‘s “Shelf Life” colum.
I liked this article, written for New University.
Read a reiew in Huffington Post.
Take a look at what The Examiner has to say.
For a negative take on what I see positively–the connection between the book and the show–check out this Chicago Tribune reprint of a Variety article. Peter Bart is SO NOT an it-getter.
And now, I’ll let Stephen say bye–but be sure to let me know your thoughts! Cheers.