Saturday, July 6, 2013

G82 A Weak American in Russia and Ukraine; Adventures and Misadventures Living among the Natives

General Information:


Name of Book: A Weak American in Russia & Ukraine; Adventures & Misadventures Living among the Natives

ISBN: 978-0-578-10042-5

Publisher: Createspace

Year it was published: 2012

Overall theme:

"In many respects this is a book about nothing. More specifically, it's about the trvial, banal and yet often fascinating events of daily existence which are aggravated greatly by living in a foreign, largely non-Elnglish speaking culture." (xiii)

"In addition to providing aching souls with a bit of laughter, it is my hope that my stories will help clear up some important culturally based misunderstandings Americans typically have of Slavs and shed light on their psychology and behavior, in particular." (xiii)

Author: Walter Parchomenko

About the Author:
(from goodreads.com)

url
http://www.goodreads.com/weakamerican

gender
male

website
http://aweakamerican.com

genre
Travel Humor, Slavic Studies

member since
March 2012

Walter Parchomenko, a distinguished college professor and civil servant in Washington, D.C. for more than 25 years, was born in a German refugee camp. He is the son of Ukrainian peasants, World War II refugees deported from their war-torn Ukrainian village to forced labor in Germany. After a grueling crossing of the Atlantic in the storage of an ocean liner packed with Slavic refugees, he entered the US (just 12 months old at the time) through Ellis Island’s newly reopened reception center. Parchomenko grew up in snowy Rochester, New York and eventually fled his Slavic mother’s strict regime, KGB-like Gulag to simultaneously work and attend graduate school in Washington. He directed a U.S. government, graduate school program in Russian and Eurasian Studies in Washington for 16 years. Over the past 20 years, he has spent a great deal of time living and working among the natives in Russia and Ukraine. Parchomenko’s writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, Kyiv Post, and numerous other publications. A Georgetown University Ph.D., and Fulbright Scholar, he currently divides his time between Washington, D.C. and Kyiv, Ukraine, where he works as a consultant and advocate for disabled rights groups. Readers’ comments are welcome and may be sent to walter@aweakamerican.com.

Summary:

A Weak American in Russia & Ukraine is a painfully funny collection of travel nightmares; country and culture shocks experienced by an American living and working among the natives over the past 20 years. It offers practical tips on how to cope with: Sexy young women who view foreign men as potential ATM machines and transportation out of their closed countries; herds of stampeding Slavs on city streets, in metro areas and supermarkets; angry motorists who stop for pedestrians at crosswalks only because they are bumpier than potholes; packs of howling stray dogs who don’t understand English and Slavic attack pigeons.

A Weak American in Russia & Ukraine also takes readers by the hand and allows them to experience the agony of entering a collapsing post-Soviet medical system and interacting with Kafkaesque bureaucracies. And it provides foreign men, who seek Slavic brides, priceless advice that can save them from bankruptcy, jail and even confinement in a psychiatric hospital.

The result is a book that weaves comic misadventures without trivializing serious issues, including AIDS, rampant corruption and ecocide; shatters many prevailing stereotypes about Slavic men and women; and clears up numerous culturally based misunderstandings Americans typically have of Russians and Ukrainians.

1. Coming to America

One sentence summary:

Description of his childhood and personal gulag his mother put him through.

2. The Post Soviet System

One sentence summary:

Description of Russia and Ukraine post 1980s when Communism broke down.

3. The Soulless American

One sentence summary:

The one where he learns how Russians get close, and its by venting about Americans.

4. Russian "Holiday of a Lifetime"

One sentence summary:

The one where he learns about wild parties that Russians try to give to naive Americans.

5. Slavic Khamstvo & Sovok Mentality

One sentence summary:

Description of what Khamstvo and Sovok are as well as the situations in which he encounters this.

6. Flying Slavic-Style

One sentence summary:

Description of what its like to fly in a Soviet plane as well as some of his personal experiences.

7. A Smoker's Paradise

One sentence summary:

Description of what smoking means in the Slavic world and views of Slavic corruption

8. The Smiling American

One sentence summary:

Description of how Russians perceive when Americans smile at them as well as when they ask how they are doing.

9. The Generously Proportioned American

One sentence summary:

Description of the type of meals one finds in Ukraine and Russia as well as slight differences between a Russian dinner and American one

10. Slavic Public Toilets

One sentence summary:

Description of how public toilets are like in Ukraine and Russia, and how they differ from American toilets.

11. The Sweaty American

One sentence Summary:

Description of what summers are like for him in Moscow and Ukraine and how Russia has no air conditioner

12. Mayo Heaven

One sentence Summary:

Description of Russian love for mayo as well as an explanation for why Russian are overweight after their twenties.

13. My Khrushchovka

One sentence summary:

Description of what Russian apartments are like, as well as what apartments he has stayed in, in the past

14. Howling Stray Dogs

One sentence summary:

Description of what stray dogs are like in Russia as well as what shelters and others are like

15. My Weak American Cat

One sentence summary:

Description of his personal life a little bit, as well as what he would want to do to Tigger, a cat he cannot stand.

16. Meet My Slavic Neighbors

One sentence Summary:

A detailed description of some of the more interesting neighbors he had while living in Ukraine and Russia, including prostitutes.

17. Fornicating Flies

One sentence summary:

Description of what are flies like when living in Kyiv Ukraine as well as an episode he has with them.

18. Slavic Attack Pigeons

One sentence summary:

Personal description of his thoughts about pigeons, as well as a realization he has about them while living in Moscow.

19. Dr. Kovalenko, Master of Sports Medicine

One sentence summary:

A personal tale of him trying to lose weight on doctor's orders as well as determination he has when he was called weak American.

20. Inside Ukraine's Collapsing Medical System

One sentence summary:

The one where he has to undergo an electric knee therapy to cure the pain and learning what being sick in Ukraine and Moscow is like.

21. Navigating Slavic Minefields 

One sentence summary:

Description of what its like to walk on the Soviet Union roads and how to be careful.

22. Slavic Bat Radar

One sentence summary:

Description of cars in Russia as well as a proposition of creating a special class for American pedestrians.

23. Slavic Formula-1 Drivers

One sentence summary:

Description of how Russians and Ukrainians drive cars and their views of pedestrians.

24. My Slavic Mega-Market

One sentence summary:

Description of the current shopping experience in Russia as well as how it was in the past.

25. School of Defensive Walking

One sentence summary:

Description of how to walk like a Slav.

26. Sexpats on the Post-Soviet Playground

One sentence summary:

Description of what some of the Russian women do to take advantage of the foreign men

27. Khytrist, a Key to understanding Slavic Women

One sentence summary:

Description of what women do and the lengths they go to attract foreign men

28. Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places

One sentence summary:

The one where he meets Bill and warns him about Slavic women and some diseases, but Bill doesn't believe him.

29. My Lovely Russian Rose

One sentence summary:

Description and consequences of a middle-aged man falling in love with a Russian woman and what can happen.

30.  In defense of Little Red Sports Car

One sentence summary:

Description of benefits of having a little red sports car instead of a Slavic bride

31. In defense of Slavic Women

One sentence summary:

Description of the hardships that Slavic women face while living in Russia and Ukraine as well as a personal example of Bill.

32. In Defense of Slavic Men

One sentence summary:

Description of the hardships that Slavic men have to face while living in Russia or Ukraine

33. Po-nashemu- "It's a Slavic Thing, you Wouldn't understand."

One sentence summary:

Description of some of Slavic traditions that the author has encountered.

34. Slavic Go-Slow Lifestyle

One sentence summary:

Description of what Slavic work-life is like and how it differs from the American one.

35. Vodka and the Weak American

One sentence summary:

Description of what the vodka culture means in Russia and Ukraine.

36. My Friend Kolya

One sentence summary:

The one where he meets Kolya as well as Russian and Ukrainian perception of friendships and that of American perception.

37. Slavic Faux VIPs and Elite

One sentence summary:

Description of what Russian and Ukrainian elite people are like as well as their obsession with materialism and corruption of the nations.

38. Slavic Fashion Police

One sentence summary:

Description of what men and women in Slavic think of fashion as well as their surprise of how Americans dress like.

39. Orthopedic Consequences of Slavic Foot Candy

One sentence summary:

Description of how Russian women view shoes and type of shoes they wear as well as effects of stilettos for long term health.

40. A Proud tradition of stealing and cheating

One sentence summary:

Description of Slavic views on cheating, that's it done everywhere vs American view of it as wrong and plagiarism.

41. Your American Cash is no good

One sentence summary:

The one where he has problems exchanging 100 dollar bills for Russian cash

42. Slavic Bureaucracy and the 7 circles of hell

One sentence summary:

Description of how Slavic bureaucracy works and the problems he has with it.

43. Western Union Slavic Style

One sentence summary:

The one where he tries to transfer some funds to Russia but finds out problems with it.

44. In Defense of Ronald McDonald

One sentence summary:

Description of what Slavic people think of Ronald McDonald restaurants.

45. Swimming with Slavs

One sentence summary:

Description of a trip to a river as well as negative effects that may happen to a person and how Slavs view the contamination and whatnot.

46. Ukraine's ticking time bomb

One sentence summary:

Description of problems Ukraine has including the Chernobyl disaster.

47. Abraham Maslow in Moscow and Kyiv

One sentence summary:

Description of utilities in Moscow and Kyiv as well as more problems facing Slavs.

48. Coldest Winter in 80 years

One sentence summary:

The one where he visits his friend Kolya's parents and writes what its like to experience cold winter in Moscow.

49. World Smile Day in Kyiv

One sentence summary:

The one where he learns that Slavs don't really care for smiling and don't have a reason to smile

50. Slavic Humor

One sentence summary:

Description of some jokes and anecdotes that Slavs may find funny.

51. Slavic superstitions and my tortured childhood

One sentence summary:

Description of some superstitions as well as reasons behind them.

52. Slavic Fear of cold drinks and deadly drafts

One sentence summary:

Description of ice cubes and Slavic attitudes to them.

53. Moscow Summer 2011

One sentence summary:

Description of Moscow and what he did there during 2011 (having missed the 2010 scorching summer)

54. The cab driver from hell

One sentence summary:

The one where he asks someone to ride him to his apartment but what should have been a 30 minute ride turns to a 2 hour ride.

55. You know you are in Russia or Ukraine if

One sentence summary:

Description of what to expect in Russia or Ukraine

56. Things I miss about America

One sentence summary:

Things he misses while he's living in Russia or Ukraine

57. Things I'll Miss if Leave Ukraine and Russia

One sentence summary:

What he'll miss about Ukraine and Russia when he'll go back to America

58. A lecture for foreign men seeking Slavic brides

One sentence summary:

Description of two different experiences two different men have had when seeking Slavic brides.

59. Coming home from the insane asylum

One sentence summary:

Some lessons he learned while living in Ukraine and Russia as well as coming back to America

Personal opinion:

I grew up with some of the stuff, so he's pretty dead on and accurate with what I heard from my parents. I mentioned some of the things I learned from the book to them and they supported what he wrote. If I should write a story that takes place in Russia or Ukraine, I will of course use this book to make my characters sound realistic.

Quick notes: I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review the book.

5 out of 5
 (0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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