I was inspired to get Granta 77: What We Think About America (2002), after reading the recent Granta 84: Over There. I made a back order with Granta and after they processed it, which took a couple of days, it was here in like three days! Amazing. The highlight was the commentary by 24 writers about America including the likes of Harold Pintner, Doris Lessing, and Ivan Klima. I also really like Jihadis by Pankaj Mishra, an Indian journalist, about his life in Saudi Arabia where he documented the terrible petty bureaucratic tyrants, corruption, and inefficiency or Middle Eastern cultures. Where he says people have very little of anything, but time. "Mecca" by Ziauddin Sardar was also an interesting piece on Islam. I also enjoyed Blake Morrison's memoir and analysis of his parent?s wartime correspondence called "Have You Decided to Love Me Yet." Here are some interesting comments about America:
Ian Buruma (Germany/Holland/Britain) wrote:
I still feel a schoolboyish thrill every time I go to America, and an exhilarating sense of lightness when I get there. Chatting to strangers somehow becomes easier. The burden of European caginess, and of the snobberies and class prejudices left behind, like crusty scales, by a European education, appears to be lifted. The feeling never entirely wears off, even when the drawbacks of American society-the sentimentality, the conformism, the insularity-become more apparent.
Ariel Dorfman (Chile) wrote:
In the years since I've come to realize how comfortable it is to employ anti-Americanism as a way of avoiding the faults and deficiencies of our own societies, even though such self-criticism should not prevent us from assigning blame to Americans when that blame is due, which it often is. The United States has such incommensurate power to good or evil, and has set itself high standards of freedom and tolerance by which to be measured. But I am wary today, so many years later, of the automatic response of the kind that briefly, as I recall that afternoon, led me to deny our common humanity as that child descended into the cold quiet maelstrom of those waters.
Benoit Duteurtre (France) wrote:
So America's aim is to impose its economic system on the whole world? In fact Europe voluntarily chose this system and now in turn imposes it on countries that want to enter the EU. So the violence of American society couldn't be further from Europe?s welfare system? Rhetoric aside, over the last thirty years France has allowed the growth of urban ghettos comparable to the worst of the American inner cities. So the European mind rejects the leveling-down effects of American culture? Yet it was a French socialist government that invited and financed the creation of Euro Disney. And besides, one might do well to wonder about the seductive power of American cinema or music, which have such a grip on the contemporary world, whereas European art can seem imprisoned in its culture pretensions.