I try not to go crazy with the capital-letters-and-period style, but I can't help it here. I hated Maira Kalman's And the Pursuit of Happiness SO. MUCH.
I'll give it this: it's a very different book. It's big (470 pages) and heavy and a pseudo-graphic novel in that it contains numerous illustrations. It's Kalman's take on American history, in chapters organized by the months of the year ("January: The Inauguration. At Last." "February: In Love with A. Lincoln."), although it also includes anecdotes from more current affairs.
It didn't help that the book starts with Kalman traveling to President Obama's inauguration. She doesn't tell a straightforward story; she sprinkles some text with drawings on each page: "The angels are singing on this glorious day," followed by an illustration of an angel, followed by "And we mortals, driving down to Washington, passing white mountains and black mountains of unidentified industrial stuff, listen to Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sing words from a Bach cantata...'Now is the time of grace.' The heart is racing. And all I can say is hallelujah." (pp. 4-7.)
And all I can say is, calm down, lady, you're just going to the inauguration of another shithead politician. Who actually may be worse than other politicians because he seemed to promise something better, but has turned out to be more aggressively just like every other shithead politician than even I, in all my cynicism, thought he was going to be.
As you can see, it was just the WAY wrong time for me to be reading this book.
There's also lots of stuff in it about the Founding Fathers, particularly Jefferson, and those parts of the book are vaguely interesting and informative. But everything else about this book, including the fact that most pages have just a few words of text or one drawing (seems wasteful to me), simply annoyed the hell out of me. Friends who liked it have told me they enjoyed the whimsy of it, but I guess my current mood is just beyond whimsy. Ugh. Rarely have I appreciated more the words of Dorothy Parker, who once reviewed a book and said something to the effect that she "didn't want to put it down...I wanted to throw it across the room." I would throw this one across the room, and hard, but I don't want to put a dent in my wall. Gah.