October 24, 2010
I think that the popularity of the blogosphere stems from one basic human trait - curiosity. It's not really about the desire to communicate with others. It is well known that only a small fraction of users leave comments, compared to how many readers the post actually gets. People read blogs because they are curious. And I am no exception.
Another way to satisfy your curiosity is reading other people's memoirs. I don't just pick anything - I like to read about the experiences of the people who have had to deal with culture shock after moving to another country. I particularly love reading about people who have moved to France. I avoid reading books by Peter Mayle, even though he pretty much started the whole movement of writing about "how it really happens", of taking a bite out of life in that country.
Instead, I have read books by just about all the reckless Americans, Canadians, and Brits with the tiniest grain of literary talent who can be found at Chapters or in the library.
Here's a brief overview of one of them - French Toast by Harriet Welty Rochefort. After reading this book, I have come to the conclusion that Russian people are practically French, judging by how many national traits they have in common. For one thing, they're very similar in their behaviour on the road, their lack of desire to smile spontaneously, in their attitude towards professional clients, and in their attitude towards education. The phrase "It does seem like everyone's always fighting over something" brought back so many memories and a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
Another aspect that was so familiar to me was the absurd degree of bureaucracy and all the unwritten rules about how to act during dinner when you have guests over. And then there's also the love of discussion that end up going nowhere. And the gender relations.
Overall, I have really enjoyed it, and I would recommend this wonderful and hilarious book to anyone.