Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: British Guinness by David Xavier


British Guinness is supposed to be a humorous travel memoir through England, France, and Italy. 

Simply put, this book is not funny. The author frequently comes across as an example of what not to be like as a tourist. The phrase "Ugly American" comes to mind. Even in the description for the book, the way he talks about the locals as "people that inhabit the land like wild animals" shows his negative attitude. He generally seems to find things dirty and smelly. Communication problems aren't always solved amicably either. Sometimes he becomes annoyed because the person doesn't speak any English even though he is the one visiting their country.

I had a lot of trouble finishing this book. Small Spoiler: In particular after he sees two young women walking small dogs and the dogs get into a fight. He decides he would rather "sit back and enjoy the show" than help.

After a while it becomes a series of cappuccinos for the men and shopping trips for the women punctuated by sight seeing. As far as humor in the book goes, I think it probably is humorous to the author and his family and the people that know them, but that the humor doesn't seem to translate to a broader experience.

On a more positive note, there are a few places where the descriptions shine through. In Paris: "Ascending the stairwell from the station was like being slowly dipped into a vat of creamy butter. Everything around us changed with each step. Everything became deliciously foreign." Now, if only he had been able to keep that sort of attitude and language.

I gave this book 2 stars out of 5.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for my unbiased opinion.