Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life in Another Country / Various

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel

Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words

Availability
Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
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Description:

A collection of ten short autobiographical sketches, each sharing the author’s experiences living in a country foreign to them.

Appraisal:

The subtitle of Life in Another Country is Learning More Than Ever Expected. The title explains the premise: each of those who contribute spent an extended period living outside their native country and tell us about it. The subtitle is what a reader would hope to learn. What did the contributors learn that they didn’t expect? How were the people and conditions different? In what ways were they the same? A couple sentences buried in the middle of the section by Steve Trigg, a combat video journalist who has lived all over the world, had what I thought could have been a summary for at least part of what we might take away from our reading:

The people I have met on my travels taught me how to live by accepting the rules of humanity as opposed to the rules of one society. I have discovered that, in the end, we all want the same thing for ourselves and our families—a tomorrow.

Jennifer Stewart, the person who put this book together by writing the introduction, soliciting contributions, and editing, appears to have edited with a light hand. This is both good and bad. It allowed each contributor’s unique voice to remain; however, there were many instances where cutting an extraneous word or phrase would have made tighter prose without losing that voice. One contributor used the phrase “if you know what I mean” at the end of a couple of sentences, for a single example among many.

However, my bigger problem with the book is that, while it delivered to some degree on its promise, there is too much extraneous stuff. Things like 'I went from here to here to here or I did this and this and this,’ with too much detail about the what, and not enough detail about how it felt. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some insightful gems buried amongst the barebones travelogues. Steve Trigg’s contribution, quoted above, had a section on how his experiences changed him, which was very good. All contributors had portions that were informative and enlightening. Unfortunately, the search for those gems took too large a portion of the reading time.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of typos and proofreading errors.

Rating: *** Three stars

1 comment:

S.G.Royle said...

"I have discovered that, in the end, we all want the same thing for ourselves and our families—a tomorrow."

Very true, although I would insert the word, 'hopeful' in front of tomorrow...