Iconoclastic collection of essays from a poet, editor, and NPR commentator for ""All Things Considered."" More than a few degrees below manifesto status, Codrescu here fails to rock the boat but does charm with a collection sustained by personal anecdote and wit. Drawing on his Romanian upbringing and later emigration to the US, he compares East and West, musing freely on the slowly evaporating borders between the two. With the disappearance of a repressive ""inside,"" the familiar binary relationship between a free expression zone--the West--and its Eastern opposite changes the way we organize our imagination. One result, Codrescu points out, is the altered status of the printed word. Recalling a childhood spent in Cold War Romania, Codrescu depicts the almost totemic value of books formerly forbidden in the East. The discovery of a dissident's library, a glimpse at an outlawed Bible, the heightened role of authors capable of offending the state--all of this stands in stark contrast to what Codrescu saw as general indifference to the written word in North America when he arrived here in the 60's. Now that the conventional boundaries between East and West are breaking down, he anticipates a corresponding deflation of literary value throughout the Eastern bloc. Fuzzy and slightly wigged-out at the best of times, but a collection that nonetheless succeeds in isolated pockets of memoir, anecdote, and humor.