Book for Moldova, country #7: Playing the Moldovans at Tennis by Tony Hawks

Another non-review book review!

I live in a part of the US that is so-respectfully referred to as “flyover country”.  We are left to drift along in the fog of the national consciousness, taking form only when needed as a stereotype. We are sturdy, honest hard-working “real” Americans who have no fashion sense and eat nothing but mayonnaise, except when we go fancy at Applebee’s. And everyone lives on farms and knows an Amish person. Our cities are on fire all of the time due to a toxic mixture of poisonous rivers and horrible racism that exists only in Cincinnati and no other place in America.

Right.

Clichés like this make me a bit sensitive, especially when the verdict is being rendered by someone from an imperial city. Places like London, New York, Toyko – they have a huge amount of good press already built in; if you live there, you get a lot of credit with very little effort. The further your home territory is off the beaten path, the less people know what to think about it; unless things are shiny and pretty and fun at first glance, your town has an uphill climb. And some places just get more grief than others – they are usually the ones who need it the least, and deserve it even less.

With that chip solidly on shoulder, I approached my book of choice about Moldova a little cautiously…written by a English comedian about his travels through a struggling, post-Iron Curtain country, there seemed a good chance of it being mean-spirited. But my worries were unfounded; this was a openhearted story, told with fondness and love.

And look…it’s a movie now!

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