Reviews of my favorite books written by expatriates, journalists, and diplomats on what it's really like to live abroad

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book Review: Ciao, America! by Beppe Severgnini

"The American news we are bombarded with in Europe is like having a searchlight shine directly into your eyes," notes Beppe in his introduction. "Ordinary America is one of the world's best kept secrets." You know, I'm so glad someone besides me said that. America is as overexposed in the world's media as Paris Hilton, which leads many outside the US to assume, reasonably, that they know all about it. Then they come here and those preconceptions get blown to smithereens.

You can tell that Beppe, an Italian journalist, had a marvelous time writing this book about the year in the early 1990s he and his family lived in the Georgetown area of Washington DC. He details the strange customs of the natives (annoyingly friendly waiters, freakishly quick and businesslike phone calls, continual unalloyed optimism, no need to bribe clerks, boasting being valued over modesty, unusual holiday rituals, the overwhelming variety of offerings on supermarket shelves, etc.) and is terrifically proud of winning signs of acceptance from the neighbors after just six months. (Relentless front yard gardening was key.)

And, of course, he gives an Italian's take on American food. Pancake houses, burger joints, chewing gum, and mountains of ice in drinks.

You'll like this book if you:
- Are an American living in Europe and would like to imagine the reverse sometimes.
- Are an American who always wondered what our country looks like through foreigner's eyes.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for sharing bro..