Monday, June 22, 2009

Visions on America by Jean Koning + Giveaway!

4 Stars
Language (Though to be fair, Koning is not American and language that bothers me may have totally different connotations to the Dutch.)

This is an entertaining (mostly) collection of columns on American life (more or less) from a Dutch perspective.

Now, for the record, Jean Koning and I have extremely different views on life, and it's not just a cultural difference. There are several columns in this book that I do not agree with and several ideas I do not even like, but it is interesting to see the different perspectives.

I was very amused by how America is described as being very conservative. I guess we are in some ways, but it's still funny. (Given that I'm conservative for an American, you can see where we might not see eye-to-eye.)

The one about Barbie and Ken was amusing, if slightly dirty.

My favorite may have been the one on coffee. Let me give you some great quotes:

(He's talking about how he's always carrying a cup of coffee and it would be an interesting experiment to film him carrying it and spilling it on the floor when he bumps into someone and putting it on the internet as a poll-- "Is the dude spilling the coffee an American person or a Dutch one?") "I think 90% will answer: he's a real American Dude, man. So that will lead directly to the conclusion that I am an American Dude, carrying my coffee anywhere I go. Except that I am Dutch. And I live in Holland. And the nearest Starbucks is in London."

Can you imagine the closest Starbucks being that far away? I don't even drink coffee and I could easily find a Starbucks around here.

"The Dutch Rap-stars (they rap in Dutch- you don't want to know) show more flesh in their video's than an average hardcore porn film."

Okay, so maybe America is conservative.

"Dutch people hate America, but they love imitating the d--- nation. They love integrating tiny details from American life into their own existence. They love to pimp the ride. And they love to verbally abuse me when I carry my coffee on the street."

This is an interesting point. If you believe the media, then I think a fair amount of the world does things like this.

Then he talks about parties where you bring your own food. (Pot lucks, I think.)
"But anyway, in Holland we call this type of party an 'American Party'. My friends in New York call this a 'Dutch Treat'. Personally I think it's a Russian way to throw a party."

That gave me the giggles.

Anyway. I could give you a whole list of things Koning and I would never agree on (sex, drugs, freedom, public nudity.... I could keep going) but I found this quick read interesting and entertaining.

This is a Virtual Book Tour book and if you speak Dutch you can learn more at Jean Koning's website or in English try Jean Koning's other site.

AND-- I have an extra copy to giveaway!!!!!!

SO-- leave a comment here about perspectives on America or international travel to enter!
You have until June 30th.

(I think it's an ARC or Gally, so there are some typos.)


  1. I think the rest of the world have a love0-hate relationship with the U.S. They love to hate American culture but are still fascinated by it, don't you think? I'm fascinated, and I live here, lol.

  2. I think we feel as if we are so forward thinking and liberal, and yet the rest of the world often views us as so conservative and restrictive-- even puritanical.

  3. Book Bird Dog-- I agree. Seems like a lot of that going around.

    nfm- probably true. I guess for me, since I'm considered conservative HERE it's weird to think that America as a whole is viewed as conservative.