A gifted comedic writer takes bona fide pieces of American history and uses them as occasions to go brilliantly bananas ... Petri’s use of borrowed forms, particularly in this book, is so skilled that it often communicates as much as the content itself ... In making her brilliant leaps, she successfully reformulates what can feel like horrible and overwhelming news, transforming it into something more manageable, not to mention hilarious, if only for a few precious minutes ... That Petri riffs on specific works of literature and historical events may limit the book’s appeal for some.
Petri’s seemingly effortless ability to reimagine American history in the most bizarre ways makes this one of the most entertaining books you’ll read this year ... A satirical salve at a time when we need humor more than ever.
Though the satire is more eccentric than biting, Petri pricks the egos of many legendary men, noting, for instance, that Henry David Thoreau’s mother brought his laundry to him at Walden Pond. Rooted in Petri’s impressive knowledge of the American past, this is a trip.
Some of the pieces work ... Petri’s disquisitions on the shooting of John Lennon, a drugless Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and the U.S. presidents in Ragnarok are duds. Much of the book, studded with fun moments, lacks the sustained wit and goofiness of the British humor classic 1066 and All That.