State by State

State by State

A Panoramic Portrait of America

Book - 2008
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Baker & Taylor
Collects original writings on all fifty states by leading novelists, journalists, and essayists, in a volume that includes Anthony Bourdain on New Jersey, Dave Eggers on Illinois, and Louise Erdrich on North Dakota.


From the bestselling editors of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup comes an American road trip in book form: original writing on all 50 states by 50 of our finest novelists, journalists, and essayists

Inspired by the example of the legendary WPA American Guide series of the 1930s and '40s, now 50 of our foremost writers have produced original pieces of reportage and memoir that capture the 50 states in our time, creating a fresh portrait of America as it lives and breathes today.

At turns poignant and funny, and always insightful, these 50 writers tell us something lasting and revealing about each state through personal memory or contemporary reporting that captures the essential qualities that make each state its own. With an array of revealing facts and figures comparing the 50 states in a range of surprising measures (toothlessness, military enlistment, suicide), State by State is more than an anthology: It is a classic American road movie in book form.

Featuring original writing on all fifty states

Alabama by George Packer
Alaska by Paul Greenberg
Arizona by Lydia Millet
Arkansas by Kevin Brockmeier
California by William T. Vollmann
Colorado by Benjamin Kunkel
Connecticut by Rick Moody
Delaware by Craig Taylor
Florida by Joshua Ferris
Georgia by Ha Jin
Hawaii by Tara Bray Smith
Idaho by Anthony Doerr
Illinois by Dave Eggers
Indiana by Susan Choi
Iowa by Dagoberto Gilb
Kansas by Jim Lewis
Kentucky by John Jeremiah Sullivan
Louisiana by Joshua Clark
Maine by Heidi Julavits
Maryland by Myla Goldberg
Massachusetts by John Hodgman
Michigan by Mohammed Naseehu Ali
Minnesota by Philip Connors
Mississippi by Barry Hannah
Missouri by Jacki Lyden
Montana by Sarah Vowell
Nebraska by Alexander Payne
Nevada by Charles Bock
New Hampshire by Will Blythe
New Jersey by Anthony Bourdain
New Mexico by Ellery Washington
New York by Jonathan Franzen
North Carolina by Randall Kenan
North Dakota by Louise Erdrich
Ohio by Susan Orlean
Oklahoma by S.E. Hinton
Oregon by Joe Sacco
Pennsylvania by Andrea Lee
Rhode Island by Jhumpa Lahiri
South Carolina by Jack Hitt
South Dakota by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
Tennessee by Ann Patchett
Texas by Cristina Henríquez
Utah by David Rakoff
Vermont by Alison Bechdel
Virginia by Tony Horwitz
Washington by Carrie Brownstein
West Virginia by Jayne Anne Phillips
Wisconsin by Daphne Beal
Wyoming by Alexandra Fuller

and an afterword on Washington, D.C.: A Conversation with Edward P. Jones

Book News
Editors and authors Weiland and Wilsey offer a collection of writings on each of the 50 states from novelists and journalists well-known (think Anthony Bourdain, Susan Orlean, and Sarah Vowell) to not so well-known. The brief, and frequently humorous, portraits are a readable argument against the common assumption that America is growing more homogeneous as each year passes. The book is essentially the diary of a country-wide road trip, complete with the detail, character, and characters one can only discover on the road. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

The editors of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup collects original writings on all fifty states by leading novelists, journalists, and essayists, in a volume that includes such examples as Anthony Bourdain on New Jersey, Dave Eggers on Illinois, and Louise Erdrich on North Dakota. 50,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, c2008
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780061470905
Branch Call Number: 973 St29
Characteristics: xxxi, 572 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), map ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Wilsey, Sean
Weiland, Matt


From the critics

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Nov 18, 2017

Homeschoolers look for help anywhere :-). Read the WA entry to my two grandsons (10/12) for our study of our good state. It was grand - they loved it - laughed and felt 'part of a pod' after. (We looked up a couple of the references on youtube afterwards - for enrichment). It was so enjoyable - I'll check it out again to read the rest.

Dec 17, 2015

lukas, October 23, 2009
Based on old WPA guides, this clever anthology offers essays on all 50 states, by a variety of writers, journalists, artists and musicians. As expected, the quality varies. The best entries are those that combine the personal with some history of the state and a feel for the people and culture. The worst are ones where boring writers dwell on their boring childhoods. Two of the entries are comics and you wish they would have been more creative in their author choices, which are heavily weighted towards the NPR/This American Life/New Yorker/McSweeney's gang. Should've been accompanied by a CD. Still, worth reading for the best entries.

Nov 13, 2010

I thought this was one of the best anthologies I've come across. Some collections of essays/short stories might seem to jump around too much, so that in retrospect one might jumble up details or moods from each source. The 50 essays herein (plus one interview and a couple dozen tables), are sufficiently bound together by the theme of describing something(s) unique about each state that each author can go in his or her own direction with it. So there is wide variation in the balance each gives to historical, current-event or personal narrative elements. The authors might have lived in their state all their lives, grown up and moved away, immigrated there, or only visited in order to write the essay. They are a nicely diverse group, some a little more famous than others, and mostly seem to have Gen-X, This American Life-ish writing styles. Despite coming in at over 500 pages, the book never seems to drag.


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