Through My Eyes: The USA (Publication Review)

HUGEOrange Publication Review
Through My Eyes: The USA by Sandi Gorišek

Through My Eyes: The USA by Sandi Gorišek is written with an offbeat naiveté in this wide-eyed look at the US. It’s a short read spanning his travels through parts of the U.S. (mostly Washington, D.C.; NYC; and the Appalachian Mountains).

He expresses confusion and shock over cultural differences.  Much of it funny, but also cruel at times. He doesn’t much like Americans as ‘their primary interest lies in how they can benefit from you’ (hope none of his stateside colleagues read that!). The ongoing theme is his distaste of American ambition for upward career growth, better houses, cars, etc.  Although he writes ‘the more books I sell, the sooner I’ll be back to America, and thus have an opportunity to describe the remainder of this or another country that I will have travelled to and/or worked in.’

The book has some other confusing contradictions throughout, possibly caused by cultural differences. For instance, he states he doesn’t like American houses because they are ‘built around a skeleton frame’ and won’t support extra stories for three generations of a family as homes in Slovenia do.  Yet, when his hosts for a barbeque in West Virginia live in proximity to other relatives, he labels that ‘creepy,’ however, it’s interesting to see the contrast and viewpoints of another culture.

There are some amusing restaurant observations: Visiting various fast-food and large-scale chain places, the author is quite shocked by so many menu choices, the (over) friendliness of servers, and free soft drinks (with ice and straws!). He’s saddened by the lack of a “culinary surprise” that’s given to diners in Slovenia. When seeing Starbucks, he’s driven almost speechless with amazement at, again, too many choices (!) and the baffling ID method of writing names on cups.  Many observations, having visited America myself, I agreed with and found funny. 

In a comment to Mom and Dad, he says he doesn’t know why Americans don’t walk their own dogs (he saw a professional dog walker in NYC). He disapproves of Americans changing jobs and moving to a new city and assures his parents that the Slovenian way of staying put is the only valid way, just as they’d told him.

He concludes no American has friends unless they can be useful to them. His interactions with different Americans are sometimes funny, and sometimes awkward.  After huffing over the capitalist schemes in a White House giftshop, he bravely puts that aside and asks a saleswoman there to sell his book. She kindly fabricates a reason to not purchase it, again something was lost in translation, and he is baffled when she won’t return phone calls, blaming American disorganization.  Americans often find it polite to be nondirect rather than answer with a no, both in casual business and social encounters.  It’s something the author trips over frequently causing some unique situations and interpretations.

If he goes back to the U.S., I hope he finds that America has wonderful coffeehouses, restaurants and people who are selfless, loving, and yes, literate. Most do not love guns or buy Trump wigs from giftshops.  Cultural differences can be both funny and interesting. The book is written in a lively manner with a mélange of humor, sour grapes, and a dash of artlessness. If you’re American, don’t expect to recognize your reflection within the pages, but you will find a unique look at American culture. 

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