A comical travel memoir documenting a young woman’s attempt to find herself overseas.
After playwright and aspiring actress Shukert (Have You No Shame?: And Other Regrettable Stories, 2008) unsuccessfully attempted to gain entrance into New York's acting elite, she ventured to Europe with the promise of a fresh start. En route, an Austrian custom's official absentmindedly forgot to stamp her passport, essentially giving her free reign throughout the continent. The author’s charming romp across Europe led her on an array of misadventures throughout Austria, France and Switzerland, before she settled in Amsterdam, where she had it on not-so-good authority that an acting role awaited her. The role fell through, but Shukert's experience in Amsterdam's Red Light District and marijuana-filled coffee shops functioned as entry points for even greater mishaps involving a predictable cast of characters, locals and expatriates alike. While the author’s travels left a trail of one-night stands and failed relationships in her wake, the humor with which she recounts her experiences allows her work to transcend beyond the cliché of overseas-love-affairs-gone-awry. Shukert is at her best when she probes the depths of her own identity, both as a transplanted Nebraskan Jew and as a failed actress. The humor drives the narrative, but the rare poignant moments are intimate and well-appreciated. Though readers will root for the author, it becomes difficult as she continually traps herself in nets of her own making. Shukert acknowledges this shortcoming, admitting that “I had come to Europe to grow up, to fall in love, to become the kind of person that I wanted to be. But the person I was becoming was destroying the person that I already was.” This confliction of identity, though regularly masked behind cheap laughs, is what sets Shukert’s book above similar travel memoirs.
An entertaining and often laugh-out-loud—though not altogether atypical—story of soul-searching abroad.