This is another bookcrossing book. I’ve reading a lot about it lately because it was recently published in Greece. It’s a book of essays by an American humorist. I don’t think it would have been translated in Greek had it not been for the writer’s Greek origins. Maybe people who buy it expect to read some funny incidents related to Greek customs and how Greek immigrants adapted to American life but it is very different. The essays about his childhood are not bad but they aren’t hilarious as people keep describing them. The part I disliked most was his college years where the writer experiments with drugs, alcohol and conceptual art. Especially the last one is very hard to swallow.
When he meets his French boyfriend and decides to move to France the book gets much better. His efforts to learn the language with a cruel teacher resembling a torturer are really funny. Another interesting part is when he describes his fellow Americans with the eyes of someone who has left the country. Americans are easy to ridicule it seems and he finds a lot of instances of provinciality to whine about.
Overall I didn’t laugh out loud with this book maybe I chuckled a bit. I was many times reminded of my favourite American humorist, Bill Bryson. Bryson is another American who at some point left his country went to England and lived there for about twenty years then went back to America and then returned to Europe once more. Sedaris and Bryson are about the same age (Sedaris born in 1956 and Bryson in 1951) and some of their books have common themes. Their fathers feature in their books heavily but I think Bryson wins hands down. His writing is much funnier and with him I really laugh out loud and make a fool of myself when reading in public places. Just to compare the books I took one of my favourites out of the bookshelf and opened it randomly at one page.
Here is one extract from the book “Notes from a Big Country”. In this book he has gone back to New England with his family after living in Europe for 20 years:
“My wife thinks everything about American life is wonderful. She loves having her groceries bagged for her. She adores free iced water and book-matches. She thinks home delivered pizza is a central hallmark of civilization. I haven’t the heart to tell her waitresses in the States urge everyone to have a nice day.
Personally, while I am fond of America and grateful for its many conveniences, I am not quite so slavishly uncritical. Take the matter of having your groceries bagged for you. I appreciate the gesture but when you come down to it what does it actually achieve except give you an opportunity to stand there and watch your groceries being bagged? It’s not as if it buys you some quality time. I don’t want to get heavy here, but given the choice between free iced water at restaurants and let us say, a national health service, I have to say my instinct is to go for the latter.”
Finally to end this: I’m thinking that I still have to read a book by European who travels to America and falls in love with it and its people. I would love to write it myself if I ever find the money for the ticket.
Βιβλία του Bill Bryson που έχουν μεταφραστεί στα Ελληνικά:
«Ένας Αμερικάνος ταξιδεύει στη Βρετανία Και κρατά σημειώσεις από το μικρό αυτό νησί» (πολύ καλό κι αυτό με τις εμπειρίες του από τη Βρετανία)
«Μικρή Ιστορία περί των πάντων (σχεδόν)» (αυτό δεν το έχω διαβάσει, είναι στα υπ’όψην)
Άρθρα για τον Σεντάρις: