Saturday, October 3, 2009

Review: Imagine: A Vagabond Story by Grant Lingel

Have you ever wondered what would happen if one day you decided to leave everything behind and start fresh in a foreign country? Imagine follows one man as he does just that, and chronicles his life-altering journey. Imagine is a memoir of sex, drugs, and Salsa dancing, but even more so is a tale of rare camaraderie and of life-changing adventures that can only happen with an open mind and a spontaneous spirit. This is an unforgettable true story that will intrigue, inform, and most of all, inspire those who are fortunate enough to come across it.

Imagine a one-way plane ticket to Mexico, with only three hundred dollars and a passion for adventure. Grant instantly falls in love with the Caribbean lifestyle and its free-spirited people. He sets out to find work in a reversal of the traditional paradigm of Mexicans seeking work in America, managing to make ends meet while keeping up with an exciting social agenda. The impromptu road trip that ensues with six new friends into Central America lands him in Guatemala, volunteering at hostels for room and board.

Imagine: A Vagabond Story is Grant's adventure, an incredible journey packed with an international cast of revolving characters that defined his future and forever transformed his outlook on life.

Received from the author for review.

It was interesting to read about the ruins the author visited as I'm particularly partial to archaeology, even though they were mentioned in passing.

There was one particularly inflammatory section on politics:

The more I spoke to foreigners about my country, the more annoyed I became about how things were back home. Sometimes it was embarrassing. I love my country for certain reasons but had much shame as well about being an American. The Bush Administration completely ripped apart the American image around the world, and many people in other countries saw the US as a bunch of greedy, arrogant, and ignorant buffoons, and it was getting too deep to get out. Eight years with a stupid hillbilly running the show.

Okay, granted Bush is an ass, and did run the country into the ground, but I am sick to death of everyone thinking that we're all fat, beer slugging sloths. There are always bitchy comments about "Ugly Americans" abroad. That's just ridiculous! That's just as insane as saying that all Iranians are terrorists! I mean, come on! Everyone seems to conveniently forget all the good we do worldwide and just focus on the bad. That is just wrong.

I actually rather liked the author until I got to the part of about him wanting to visit Israel because he was Jewish. That just ruined it for me. It was all going along so nicely until he just had to mention religion.

I was also horrified to learn that there is something called a "Birthright Program" where non-Israeli Jews are offered a free ten day tour of Israel. No, seriously. What the hell? That just sickens me. The religious aspect of it just disgusts me.

Essentially, the book leaves you with the knowledge that if you're going to become a vagabond abroad it is always wise to:
  1. Make sure you have a strong liver for all the drinking you'll be doing
  2. Always have a ready supply of condoms (and it's wise to buy them in bulk)
  3. Be prepared for constant marijuana use
This one gets three stars. It was amusing for a while, but the incessant drinking and drug use stories began to wear a bit thin rather quickly. The book was well written and engaging. This quote was particularly striking:

... taught me how small the world really is, how similar we all really are and how it is the people you meet along the way that shape who you are and who you become.

★★☆☆ = Liked It


Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Beth, the Birthright program was created so that Jews that were living outside of Israel could see and enjoy Israel. Some people think it's a political ploy, but I don't see it that way.

I don't see a big difference between that and the pilgrimages that many Catholics and Muslims take to holy sites like Mecca and Lourdes. Druids from around the world also visit Stonehenge and perform rites there.

By the way, I'm Portuguese Catholic, so I don't have a vested interest either way.

Ryan G said...

It sounds like a great book other than the drugs and sex. I tend to like more travel in my travel books.

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