- Fizzy Thoughts: Apples are from Kazakhstan review and giveaway

Apples are from Kazakhstan review and giveaway

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Apples are from Kazakhstan
Christopher Robbins
296 pages

I'll confess, before I read this book I knew squat about Kazakhstan. I blame this on the fact that it wasn't a country until 1991, and I finished part one of college in 1992 (part two being the teaching credential the following year). Obviously, Kazakhstan existed long before 1991, but it wasn't really a key component of Cal Poly's history program. Chances are, it still isn't. And okay, I always loved European history best...I'll take some ownership for my ignorance.

Since I've been bringing this book up every few days (life is slow, I have nothing else to blog about), you'd be right in assuming that I liked it. Despite the bad weather and Soviet-era atrocities committed upon it, Kazakhstan comes off pretty well in the book. This passage at the end, where the author tells a Kazakh about his book, cracks me up:

I began to tell him more about what I intended to write, and although he
listened politely, he grew increasingly agitated.
"I don't understand you!" he said at last. "You have the chance to go
skiing, to visit remote beautiful mountains, national parks...we have better
scenery than New Zealand! But you go to look at apple orchards..."
"Wild apple orchards!"
"And then you go to ecological disasters! You go to Aral Sea which
breaks our hearts. You go to nuclear test ground! You go to
Gulag! Your book will make people think Kazakhstan is a big radioactive
prison camp with apples and Internet brides!"

He'd be pleased to know I don't think of Kazakhstan as a big radioactive prison camp with apples and Internet brides. In fact, for awhile I even wanted to visit. But then I read about winter and how far away from everything everything else is, and I got over it. Maybe if I was independently wealthy and had all sorts of time on my hands...then I'd add it to my list of places to go.

Also, I feel compelled to add I never saw Borat. I never wanted to, and I never plan. So there will be no Borat to book comparisons.

It is apparent that the author loves Kazakhstan. He takes a stab at objectivity at the very end, talking about the president and democracy, but still comes across as pro-Nazarbayev and pro-Kazakhstan. Although finding anything objective about Kazakhstan could be difficult, given that it used to be communist and is now considered a Muslim state. Which, you know, as far as America is concerned, makes it doubly suspect and consigned to the depths of hell (and somehow, I'm feeling like I should say hello to Homeland Security/those Patriot
Act dudes right about now). Anyways, the author is English, which may explain why he says nice things.

This is a great little book if you like travelogues and history and reading about remote places and dreaming about how you could be so lucky as to live the life of a writer and travel all over the world, except then you'd be the one eating sheep's head, and isn't that just gross.

So having said all that, if you've made it this far and would like to get your paws on my already read but still in damn good shape copy of this book, leave a comment. If there are multiple comments, I'll enter you in my "anti-Borat, who gives a damn about pissing off Homeland Security, someone needs to write a more coherent review of this book" book giveaway. One entry per person, open to US and Canadian residents, offer expires Thursday evening, apples not included.

6 comment(s):

marta2trav said...

I was just looking at this book this weekend at B&N. I'd love to read it. Care to send it my way?

chartroose said...

Sure darlin' sodapop, I'd lurve to give it a read!

I now can reply to you again, at least at home. Yay!

ikkinlala said...

I'd love to read this book, but I have no place to post a review of it. If I'm still eligible, please add my name to your giveaway.

LisaMM said...

I'd love to read it too. Chartroose has enough books, she doesn't need any MORE!!

softdrink said...

Thanks to all of you for entering! Ikkinlala, you were definitley eligible...no review required! But better luck next time. ;-D

Oh please Lisa....we all know you have more books than you can read, too!!

bkclubcare said...

oops, I missed this? good, I have too many books already... sigh.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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