The author of Video Night in Kathmandu ups the ante on himself in this sublimely evocative and acerbically funny tour through the world's loneliest and most eccentric places. From Iceland to Bhutan to Argentina, Iyer remains both uncannily observant and hilarious.
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As he did in The Lady and the Monk (1991) and Video Night in Kathmandu (1988), Iyer again turns his attention to the quirky and the quixotic, this time in what he calls ``the et ceteras in the list of nations.'' Included in these ``lonely places'' are Iceland, Paraguay, Vietnam, Argentina, and Australia. Iyer confesses early on to a lifelong attraction to regions that in ``their very remoteness'' take on an ``air of haunted glamour.'' He doesn't necessarily mean geographically distant, though Bhutan and Patagonia are among his destinations. Rather, it's the psychological and economic isolation of these areas- -occasioned by, for example, lack of tourism and international investment--that intrigues the author. Iyer depicts with wonder and affection the varied idiosyncracies he encounters, studding his narrative with colorful, off-beat facts--e.g., that, by law, one evening each year the members of the Icelandic Parliament must speak in rhyme. Throughout, Iyer displays a winning, self- deprecatory humor. When a Cuban doctor asks him to touch his nose with his eyes closed, the author jokes, ``Luckily, it is a big target: I pass with flying colors.'' Iyer's also aware of the dichotomies that exist within the countries he visits. Vietnam, despite decades of war, is ``one of the gentlest and most peaceful countries I have ever seen.'' His comments on that nation's eagerness to enter the world economic market are revelatory and unexpected: ``It is impossible not to feel that Saigon, with its Ca-Li-Pho-Nia Ham-Bu-Go stores and its karaoke bars, its Chiclets and water ski clubs, its private Mercedeses and hustlers and `Atlanta Placons' baseball caps--Saigon, with its rogue economy--is the image of the country's future.'' Economically written yet immensely resonant: a funny, stimulating, eminently humane work, charming and instructive. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
Only some of the "lonely places" covered in this book (North Korea, Argentina, Cuba, Iceland, Bhutan, Vietnam, Paraguay, Australia) are isolated by geography, but all are culturally or politically isolated. That few tourist itineraries include these misfit countries increases their sense of being alone in the world. Iyer, a journalist for Time and Conde Nast Traveler , writes in a cool, ironic style similar to that of the late Bruce Chatwin. His essays are more impressionistic than informative and seem intended for armchair travelers rather than adventurers. At times, Iyer is a bit too detached, too unruffled by what he experiences. He does not fully convey to us the strangeness of the strange places he has visited. Despite the lack of emotion, Iyer's impressions make interesting reading. Recommended for public libraries.
- Mary C. Kalfatovic, Telesec Lib. Svces., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Descripción Vintage, 1994. Paperback. Estado de conservación: Brand New. 1st, first edition edition. 7.99x5.16x0.55 inches. In Stock. Nº de ref. de la librería zk0394280415