Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Monday, August 6, 2012

More True Stories from Abroad

One of the best parts of writing a blog is connecting with readers and other bloggers.  What you find here on the Flophouse is just one view of one emigrant and I don't have any particular truth or wisdom to impart to anyone.  I just like to tell stories and I'm fascinated by what other people have to say about the subjects I care about:  living outside one's home country, the emigrant/immigrant experience, citizenship and other diverse stuff.  And those people and their blogs take me in some interesting directions.

A few months I found this blog, Leaving America, by Ken Smith.  Ken is a semi-retired U.S. citizen who has lived in Denmark and France and is now living in Mexico.  Honestly, I didn't know a darn thing about Americans in that part of the world (other than a vague impression that there were a "few" of them there) until I started reading his blog.  He writes about a lot of things:  living in France (well worth reading because he came and went and now has some distance from his experience),  living in Mexico, book reviews, and other issues of interest to all of us who live outside our home countries like banking, taxes and expatriation and how to count with your fingers in a Francophone country.

I was perusing Ken's blog the other day and noticed that he had some posts about a fellow who I was not at all familiar with -  Joe Bageant.  How to describe this guy?  Well, he was from the U.S. (the South), described himself as a "redneck socialist" (for the Francophones among us - a socialist "plouc") but spent a fair amount of time outside the U.S. living in places like Belize and Mexico. He was a writer by trade and published a two books and many essays that got attention in quite a few countries, but not, alas, at home (The United States).  The books are Deer Hunting with Jesus:  Dispatches from America's Class War and Rainbow Pie: a Redneck Memoir.  He also wrote about living abroad and how his home country appeared to him from the outside looking in.  To get a taste for his style and his view of life outside the U.S.,  have a look at this essay, Escape from America or get a copy of Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageant edited by Ken (the book I just finished).

Bageant's work is politically incorrect, lacks politesse, and he definitely had a few axes to grind.  I can almost guarantee that there is something in everything he ever wrote that will offend someone, somewhere.  But here is one thing he isn't:  he isn't mean or petty and it's clear that he deeply cared about where he came from and the people and places he encountered elsewhere. This isn't travel writing - these are what I call "true stories" about life and about the things that matter at home and abroad from a master storyteller.

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