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Engaging America in conversation

Monday, October 18, 2010

Looking for America by Avirook Sen is a peep at the US of A from the inside by this noted writer and journalist. It is the year of the Obama election, with the nation already reeling under recession, and people angling for change, any change.

Avirook travels to places, some known and many little heard of, and finds that there is a story at every stop. Lots of fun reading this tongue-in-cheek account, of which we have provided adequate excerpts:

The list of authors who have written about their travels in America is long. There is the classic Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. More recently, Bill Bryson has made this genre a sort of cottage industry. Stephen Fry has visited every state in the US in a London black cab, and journalists Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster have a volume of essays in words and pictures on the subject. I have no hesitation in admitting that I had read none of these books when I undertook my trip, and it was humbling (for different reasons in the case of different authors) to read some of them later. My book is a small addition to an already robust collection of work, but I hope it has its own voice, and I know that bit records an interesting time. These attributes make it different.

From The Main Things are the Plain Things: I strayed into the only occupied office I could find in the Dayton courthouse. ‘Could you help me find a number, sir…’ He said sure, and whisked a directory off one of the ladies’ desks and found it right away. ‘Do you work here, sir? May I ask what you do?’ ‘I’m the judge.’ We got talking, and I learned that his favorite word was jail and his least favorite word was atheist. Neither he, nor his kids had read anything about evolution.

From Listen Me!: At a McCain rally, when a woman shouted that Obama was an Arab, the candidate babbled a startling clarification to distance himself from her bigotry, ‘No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man.’

Looking for America
By Avirook Sen
Price Rs.299

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