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An American Point of View
on November 3, 2012
Lewis demonstrates with great panache that one book can be funny, brilliant and dead wrong, all at the same time. In Lewis's case, this is aggravating. His assessments of world fiscal situations have the ring of freshness, experience, truth and wisdom, yet his assessments of people, often quite humorous, are unsteady and thus undercut whatever it is he wishes to say about the economic situation, which is a lot. He seems somewhat unaware of his own presence, so when he walks down an Icelandic street and enters a series of collisions with Icelandic men, it doesn't seem to occur to him that he may have broken a social rule about how strangers pass on a street. Instead he belittles Icelandic society. It gets worse. He slams the Germans, for instance, for having a language and a culture built around images of filth, without noting that American culture does the same thing. Another example: he spends a lot of time harassing people from numerous countries for ridiculous and irresponsible behaviour, yet when he comes to his native California he glosses over the same irresponsible behaviour as if it weren't even there. That's cowardly and untrustworthy. Buy a box of salt, enjoy Lewis's style, hold your nose when he goes off the deep end, and read this as a model, in style and form, that can lead to a truly great book in the hands of a different writer. By all means, read it, though. There's some real smart stuff in here, in a refreshing format. Just beware. People aren't totally his thing.