I’m reading a book by an authour from every country on Earth. Allow me to explain.

Like you, I am a brain in a jar kept alive and sentient by constant immersion in a nutrient-rich mixture of liquid krill and Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper. And while I boast an IQ much higher than any other object immersed in liquid (a pickle, for example) I am physically unable to leave the lab where I am kept. Have you seen Robocop 2? It’s kinda like that. So I have decided to let books be my gateway to the wide world outside my glass brain-agerie.

By reading a book by an authour from every country in the world, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of different places and cultures without actually having to go there. ¿Like, what’s the deal with that upside-down question mark they use in Mexico?

Each book I read will be given a simple rating based on the United Nations Security Level System, the standard measure of excellence throughout the literary world. The Security Level System gives a rating to a country based on how safe it is to visit, and runs like this:

1 = Completely safe

2 = Minimal danger

3 = Low danger

4 = Moderate danger

5 = Substantial danger

6 = Extreme danger

Thus, the lower the UN Security Level System rating, the better a book is. A * after a country’s name indicates a country that has ceased to exist since this blog began, while a ** after a country’s name indicates a country that has come into existence since this blog began.

So pack a bag, grab your reading glasses and join me on a round-trip trip around the world. I promise you won’t regret it!

(NOTE: If you hate reading, you’ll probably regret it.)


Algeria

November 23, 2010

 The Outsider by Albert Camus

Synopsis: In this classic absurdist novel, an emotionally detached member of the Socs kills a Greaser in cold blood and is condemned to the guillotine, but is saved at the last minute by his brother, Sodapop. This book was also published under the title The Stranger, but you wouldn’t know it.

United Nations SLS rating: 3

Algeria Fun Fact: Largely desert, much of Algeria was once lush grassland. On the upside, there’s now less to mow! 

Antigua and Barbuda

November 17, 2010

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A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid

Synopsis: A scathing condemnation of colonial slavery, during which many slaves were scathed and condemned themselves. This book is a sobering screed against modern-day Caribbean tourism, which Jamaica Kincaid (anyone else find it weird that a lady from a Caribbean island is named after another Caribbean island?) maintains is built on the backs of that region’s poor and downtrodden native inhabitants. But y’know what isn’t sobering? All the margaritas I drank when I vacationed there last winter.

United Nations SLS rating: 1

Antigua and Barbuda Fun Fact: The highest point in Antigua, Mount Obama, is regarded with suspicion by geological ‘birthers’ who claim that it’s originally from Kenya!

Argentina

November 16, 2010

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

Synopsis: A collection of short stories and essays encompassing themes of time, space, alternate realities, magic, history, religion and mysticism (‘mysticism’, by the way, is my favouirte ‘cism’, right after skepti- and cyni-.) Though JBo’s prose can be a little dense at times, intrepid readers can discover ziggurats of beauty in the undergrowth if they keep their literary machetes sharp and just keep hacking away. In 1986, this book was made into a movie starring David Bowie.

United Nations SLS rating: 3

Argentina Fun Fact: The gauchos, Argentina’s traditional plains-riding cowboys, are dwindling in number, mainly due to their mothers convincing them to pursue careers in medicine and law!

 

 

 

 

 

Australia

November 12, 2010

Seven Books For Grossman by Morris Lurie

Synopsis: A professor of literature in debt to the mob takes a job as a writer of pornography to make some quick cash and hilarity ensues. Also, pornography ensues. To reach a more highbrow type of lowlife he mimics the prose of famous writers, banging out stories about banging in the style of Vonnegut, Roth and Faulkner. If I had to write a porno version of a William Faulkner novel it’d be Go Down, Moses, because I wouldn’t even have to change the title.

United Nations SLS rating: 1

Australia Fun Fact: The world’s first full-length feature film was released in Australia in 1906 to reviews that read “If you only see one film this year, it’ll be this one, cuz its the only film that exists right now!”

Austria

November 11, 2010

Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler

Synopsis: A Viennese doctor stumbles upon an all-nude sexual masquerade party and is forced to ask himself some serious questions. Like, ‘If one gets nervous at an all-nude sexual masquerade party, where does one put one’s hands?’ Arthur Schnitzler was a major figure in erotic 19th century literature (no wonder – the very name ‘Arthur Schnitzler’ simply crackles with eroticism) and even had a sex move named after him; the ‘dirty Schnitzler’ involves a blunderbuss, a plate of hot sauerkraut, and a scullery maid named Gerta.

United Nations SLS rating: 4

Austria Fun Fact: As birthplace of Adolph Hitler, Austria has very little trouble deciding who not to put on its stamps!

Barbados

November 4, 2010

 Amongst Thistles And Thorns by Austin C. Clarke

Synopsis: A young boy struggles with the hardships of life on a tiny colonial island: no phone, no lights, no motorcars. Not a single luxury. Plus, his teacher – the Professor, so to speak – beats him regularly with a switch. Now, don’t quote me on this, but I think the kid actually dies midway through the book and spends the rest of the novel in a Hell identical to his pre-death life. I’m serious. If that’s the case, this is the coolest a-kid-goes-to-Hell novel since Harold And The Purple Crayon (Read it again. Harold is definitely in Hell.)

United Nations SLS rating: 3

Barbados Fun Fact: Because it sits atop shifting tectonic plates and undersea volcanic ridges, Barbados lures hundreds of horny geologists every year with promises of hot tectonic action!