Pitting the Olives Might Help: A 1990s expatriate odyssey through unhinged Russia (Paperback)
Have you ever considered what it would be like to pack up your entire life and move to a country that is foreign to you in every sense of the word?"Pitting the Olives Might Help" vividly illustrates the social and economic upheaval befalling Russia in the wake of the 1991 collapse of the Soviet apparatus. Readers from the west will be stunned by the extent to which Russia's citizenry and institutions were thoroughly unprepared for the ensuing transition. Russia's beauty and cultural depth are sharply contrasted with the unseemly transformation to a capitalist economy. A captivating, poignant and sometimes humorous account is rendered of a place too often only seen through the biased lens of the western news media. From the out-of-control Moscow street scene to a fledgling entrepreneurial spirit taking shape, post-Soviet Russia is revealed vividly and meticulously through the eyes of a neophyte expatriate. The move to Russia immediately following the storming of the Russian White House depicts a period of economic and social uncertainty that earned Russia the moniker of wild east. At the time, it was among the most difficult places for initiation into expatriate life - from witnessing gangster-style crime to simply learning how to acquire basic necessities. In-country travel uncovers diverse regional differences and infrastructure that has changed little in fifty years. Rich depictions of people convey a paranoia still lingering from the cold war era. Poignant and insightful images of people willing to do just about anything to get by, while their broken country attempts to transform itself, shed light on conditions that citizens of the new Russia faced each day. Observers of American culture will relate to the book's edifying comparisons between American myopia and foreign - in this case Russian - reality. "Pitting the Olives Might Help" combines the fast-paced appeal of exotic travel memoirs with the intensity and richness of overseas living narratives.