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Are You Experienced? [Paperback]

4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This book was one I couldn't put down. When my partner told me about her experience in India I wondered... was it because she was a woman, was it her take on India, the space she was in mentally or is it really truly India. I wasn't convinced that India could be so comical at times and trying at others.... such a huge difference between the highs and lows she described seemed unreal to me.

However after reading "are you experienced" I realized it wasn't only through her eyes. It is truly India and all it's glory.

This book explains the trials and tribulations in a fun and witty way. It is one you won't be able to put down, at least I couldn't. His experience from the minute he lands in India to the moment he lands back home in England is at times unbelievably funny and at others leaves you feeling so sorry for him, to the point you want to rescue him.

Yet at the end of the book I had a desire greater than before reading the book to book a flight and start my own journey into getting experienced!
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If you were ever a teenager involved in backpacking and trekking; a flower child in search of peace, love, and spiritual fulfillment; a traveler to India adventurous enough to go off the regular tourist trails; or the parent of any of these, you will love this wickedly satirical tale of two callow 19-year-olds who decide to spend a few months of their gap year backpacking around India in search of experience and enlightenment. With so many summaries already on the site, I'll forgo writing another one, but this book, unlike so many others that critics tout as "hilarious," but which regular readers find only mildly amusing at best, really IS hilarious!
As Dave and Liz smugly "experience India," we see how shallow their involvement is, how much they are acting and trying on roles to see if they fit, how much this trip is a way to avoid boredom, and how, lemming-like, they do what everyone else does, staying in the same hostels, following the same itinerary, and searching for "meaning" in outrageously off-the-wall activities, the chief attraction of which is that they take place in a foreign country.
Sutcliffe does not hold back in his satire, but he is not mean-spirited. The reader can easily imagine that this novel evolves from some of Sutcliffe's own amusing experiences or those of some of his friends. He is laughing with, rather than laughing at. Most readers will probably not have pursued enlightenment in the extreme ways that Dave and Liz do, but most of us will see ourselves at nineteen mirrored in their naivete and gullibility. In laughing at them, we are also laughing at ourselves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious April 17 2001
Ever been to a party, or in a bar and been cornered by a travel bore? Second only in the horror stakes to being cornered by an insurance salesman. Ever wondered what those travellers really got up to during their "life changing" trips to far-flung foreign climes? Well, this is the book for you.
I read this in less than a day, and it was one of those rare books that actually made me laugh out loud. Very easy to read and wickedly satirical, hitting its targets time after time.
I could see how the book may annoy Indian readers - the descriptions of life in India are scathing, but I think that it's important to realise that what Sutcliffe is doing is not attempting to descry India, but satirising the attitudes of the English back-packers to India. The meeting of the "hero" of the novel, Dave, with the resident English journalist, and that journalist's criticism of his fellow countrymen encapsulated the whole point of the novel, and contrasted India's own dignity with the shallowness of the backpackers.
Would that I could say from my own experiences that my fellow countrymen improve with age as they travel, but they don't. It's always dangerous to generalise of course, and the English are by no means the only nightmare tourists trooping all over the world, but I've come across forty-pluses with the same attitudes as the teenagers in this novel.
I have a standing invitation from friends in Mumbai to visit India. When I go, I'll think I'll stay close to them throughout, and take this novel with me as a guide.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Amusing Read Feb. 12 2001
If I simply described Dave, the narrator of this novel, you would think, I don't want to read a book about someone like that. He best friend has asked that he spend time with Liz, the best friend's girlfriend while he (the friend) travels for a year. He is completely infatuated with her and when she suggests travelling to India for a few months before school begins, he leaps at the chance, not because he is interested in India at all, but because he is interested in Liz. But read the book, you'll like him. Anyone who has traveled as a college student will probably identify with the culture shock he experiences. The story is told with much good humor and Dave actually grows as a person (he really still has a lot more to do as the book closes, but he's still 19). He learns to travel on his own and appreciate India. He's still young, so of course he has the requisite wild nights and he really has some difficulties accepting that he is in India, a country he didn't really want to see. He learns more about himself and human nature than he does about India. This is not the young man travels and becomes a better man kind of novel. Rather, it's a humorous look at something many young people wind up doing, filled with amusing characters similar to flesh and blood ones we have all no doubt met up with. If you don't take this one too seriously, you will enjoy this book.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars However I liked learning a little about India and I sure wouldn't ...
This book is for college students! However I liked learning a little about India and I sure wouldn't want to travel there!
Published 3 months ago by viola hill
5.0 out of 5 stars catharsis delayed
Having returned from basically the same Indian scene 25 years ago and never having fully recovered, this book was an emetic beyond its own description of one (mild dysentery). Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Are you experienced? I am now!
Very funny and witty from the start. Personally, as someone who has travelled her fair share, this book made me laugh endlessly as it picks on the pretentious attitude of some... Read more
Published on Jan. 29 2002 by Matilda
5.0 out of 5 stars A romp of a novel!
Despite having been a language major in college, I'm just now starting my global travels as an adult and can begin to appreciate the stories and attitudes in this novel. Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2001 by KellyAnne
4.0 out of 5 stars Ripping
Great fun. Those who didn't like it probably fall into two catgories: people who expect to see fully fleshed out characters in every novel they read, and those who recongize the... Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by David Bernardi
3.0 out of 5 stars ...please go beyond the backpacking hype!
I just finished this book after reading Sutcliffe's "Love Hexagon", which I thought was brilliant. However, this one was a bit of a disappointment. Read more
Published on July 2 2001 by Christina Borsum
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for Traveling, Certainly Not Perfect
The book is about traveling, so I supposed it`s fitting that it works very well as a travel read. I read the bulk of it on a 13 hour flight to Japan, and it set the stage well for... Read more
Published on May 10 2001 by L. Cunningham
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever felt like taking a trip?
I searched evrywhere in the U.S. for this book. A friend of mine in London had recommended it to me, but back in 98' I could not find it. Read more
Published on April 4 2001 by silvia
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and touching
This book is a coming of age story. The story's main character, Dave, decides to go traveling in India. Read more
Published on March 7 2001 by "ahmadku"
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