Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Everything Is Going to Be Great

Everything Is Going to Be Great by Rachel Shukert
Published by Harper Perennial
Trade Paperback $13.99


If you've ever dreamed of traveling to Europe with no money or any real idea of how you are going to live, this is the book for you. If you have a young daughter who wants to do that, do not read this book, it will scare the hell out of you.

Subtitled An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour, Shukert recounts her many adventures traveling around Europe, first as the member of an acting troupe with a sketchy agenda, and then on her own, courtesy of an unstamped passport which allowed her to travel unfettered throughout Europe.

Shukert is a very funny, albeit somewhat vulgar, writer. I read this on the city bus traveling around Manhattan and found myself keeping the book as closed as possible so as not to offend any Upper East Side matrons who may be trying to sneak a peek at what I was reading.

She writes very freely of her many sexual exploits, which often coincided with her drinking to excess. One really crazy night had her doing her best to avoid participating in a three-way with some very scary, excitable Italian men she did not know well. It was a scene a young, Jewish Lucy Riccardo might find herself in, all that was missing was Ethel, and Shukert had me laughing like crazy as she described extricating herself from this potentially dangerous situation.

I loved her mother, whose favorite pastime was to send Rachel "large manila envelopes containing scraps of information that she feels need to be brought to my attention: notices culled from the local newspaper reporting that my high school boyfriend has once again been imprisoned for car theft; excerpts from the latest sermon torn from the synagogue bulletin; photocopied magazine articles detailing gruesome diseases from which she believes I might be at risk."

On one card, her mom wrote- "Remember- having multiple sexual partners significantly increases your immediate risk of developing cancer of the cervix. Please consider." Hilarious!

Shukert includes in the text helpful tips for living abroad, including what to do "When Someone Mistakes You For a Prostitute", "Are You About to Be Sex-trafficked?" and "Snappy Comebacks To Loaded Questions" such as
1. Why are Americans so fat?
2. Are Americans religious because they are stupid, or just ignorant? and
3. Why do Americans cruelly refuse to provide public health care for all?

There is lots of heart in this memoir, and I liked Shukert's adventures in Amsterdam, living with her friends, Jeroen and Mattis. She gives the reader a good flavor for what it is like living in a foreign city: the loneliness, the difficulty in getting a job, the joy of riding a bike as a means of transportation.

Everything Will Be Great will appeal to mostly a younger crowd, and for those lucky enough to have traveled to Europe, they will chuckle with recognition.

Rating 3 stars of 5





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