06 May 2010

Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier, edited by Boris Fishman

So I was already annoyed at the outset by this whole Eastern Europe as "last frontier" idea (as described by Fishman in the introduction), and the notion that this book was going to reveal some kind of truth about Eastern Europe to me (if you wanted to do that, why not compile a collection of stories by Eastern European writers, rather than by Americans and ex-pats?). So I could certainly be accused of being overly critical. A few of these stories, I might have enjoyed if I'd read them in a different context.

... but not that many, I suspect. Honestly, aside from being boringly stereotypical (Eastern Europeans as violent, criminal, money-seeking, hard-drinking, mysterious, yet often charming), most of the stories just aren't that good. Partly, I'm just tired of hearing what Americans think about different parts of the world. But also, there just wasn't much to these, the plots were uninteresting, the characters unbelievable. Much of the violence seemed sensationalized or gratuitous, the one exception being Thomas de Waal's piece on Chechnya, which was really more journalism than fiction, and also, though horrifying - not all that good.

Overall - meh. Not worth the read.

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