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Foreigner In My Own Backyard: A Satirical Memoir Kindle Edition
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Showing 1-6 of 16 reviews
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Travis leaves his home in England to help his Mom and Dad out. They are both ill and he becomes their caretaker but it doesn't sound like they want to be taken care of. The drive with him, his wife, parents and three dogs from Florida to Minnesota was the funniest travel adventure. I especially loved the part where his wife kept yelling at him because he couldn't back up with a trailer on the back of the car.
The book changes slightly as he settles into American life and takes notice of what has changed since he lived here. He makes some great observations. I could feel his pain as he deals with a system he is not familiar with.
In usual Travis Casey style, this is a fun, quick, easy read. A fantastic book!
There were a lot of funny bits in the book that gave me a good laugh, most notably a reference about a mountain and a molehill. As always, Travis Casey entertains. Read this book to get a glimpse into the mind and life of a writer, and a good chuckle along the way.
Like most care-giver stories, there are lots of layers to the onion and the move was motivated by several factors, only one of which was desire to help his parents. Self-employed after he left the Navy and unemployed for some years, his writing (two novels) occupies his time, but doesn't pay the bills. Although he prefers to live in the U.K. he hopes that a change of scenery will jump-start his writing career and improve his financial situation.
But first he must drive his parents from his sister's home in Tampa back to their home in Minnesota. It's an epic journey and everyone who has ever cared for an elderly person will chuckle and recognize the frustrations. Robert Benchley said, "There are two kinds of travel: First Class or with children." Had he lived long enough to deal with elderly parents, he probably would added a third type - steerage/with frail, but stubborn old folks. Once they reach the parents' home and he finds a job, the daily care-giving falls mostly on his wife, but he must deal with his father's determination to drive, his mother's depression and possible dementia, and the resistance of both to the unwelcome, but necessary changes in their lives.
Although I generally avoid ranters, his observations are sometimes perceptive and sometimes witty. He claims that the American custom of saying "innerstate" and "innernational" is not a sign of laziness, but of provincialism. He counters by spelling the words "inTerstate" and "inTernational." It's amusing the first couple of times. I suspect that his strictures against the obstructionist INS are valid. I certainly wouldn't want to have much to do with them.
I agree with him about the absurd and irritating tipping system, which I avoid by eating at home. The inanity and vulgarity of television is also easy to avoid. Mine aren't even plugged in. I do agree with him that the steady diet of television violence is having serious effects on our culture. I also agree that Americans are too concerned about gun rights and too little about human rights violations and that our mania over national security has left us unable to formulate sensible, effective policies on any level.
I was interested in his reactions to American medical care. He's first impressed with the efficiency and luxury of his local hospital, but quickly comes to realize that it comes at the expense of crippling insurance premiums and that it depends on convincing a sizable portion of Americans that they're ill and must have constant medical supervision and a long list of maintenance (i.e. life-long) prescriptions. He's right and it's a rare American now who takes control of his/her own health decisions. He concludes that Britain's NHS may be socialism, but he prefers it to the U.S. system.
He's big on stereotypes: all Southerners are toothless rednecks, all Jews are greedy. He objects (rightly) to being addressed as "boy" by an INS employee, but describes the New York waitress who harasses him for a tip as a "little Jewish lady." I suppose he was able to identify her by the Nazi concentration camp tattoo on her arm.
It's all in the name of humor. He gives as an example a joke with no point and no humor, but claims that it's funny if he starts it "Did you hear the one about the Jewish son...." If you still aren't laughing you're a slave to political correctness. PC is a big problem now and limits what a writer can say without sounding racist. Fortunately, he has a brief encounter with "Ray" who tells us everything that's wrong with black Americans and it's okay because Ray has a black son-in-law. (And a granddaughter who's bi-polar because it's trendy.) It you believe in "Ray" you must put your dentures under your pillow every night hoping that a windfall from the Tooth Fairy will finance your retirement.
So I'm giving it four stars because the family story is interesting, but as social commentary it's patchy. However, I bought it and have paid for the sequel, so if Mr. Casey TRULY wishes to support himself as a writer, he should value my four-star review (and my $4) more than the five-star reviews from his writer pals who got it for free. We'll see.
Some of the second half of the book gets more into Travis' personal opinions. I don't personally share some of his views or language choices, but I bet we'd have an excellent time debating about many things over lattes in a coffee shop.
The story is worth it for the humor and quick read of the story he tells. His dialogue is really fun, and, as always, the book is well written and carefully constructed.
Prepare to laugh. This is a some funny stuff.