At some point in our lives, we meet her. She talks loud enough for you to wince everytime she speaks, and she yaks at a rate of 600 words per minute. Yes, she loves to talk–about me, me, me (herself), and complain about everything. She has a temper that makes a matador’s bull demure, and most of all, she is your friend.
This whole book is like an unedited one-sided conversation with a loud friend who doesnt know how to use the comma or period. She also thinks that the world revolves only around her.
So this American woman, Fran Lebowitz, a famous (or so she claims) literary agent in New York, whines to her husband (a music copyright lawyer) about being burnt out. So the dutiful husband takes her and their 2 kids along to Singapore, when he gets sent there by his boss for a long business trip.
Lebowitz now focuses her radar on the people of Singapore, locals and fellow expat wives alike. This lady bitches just about everything, its irritating. She is right in a lot of ways though–like very candidly advises “don’t forget the ‘LAH!'” when communicating with Singaporeans, and how these people are so square and move through their lives like a robot under command. Example: she went down to her condominium’s tennis court, and was greeted by a “No reservations, cannot play ,lah” So she offered to make a reservation now, on the spot. “Madam, cannot, lah” Losing her temper, she asks how to make a reservation then, and the receptionist tells her, through a phone call. So Lebowitz flips out her mobile phone on the spot, calls the guy who is in front of her, makes the reservation, and gets the court.
Then her husband announces that the boss decided to station him in Singapore for three more years, hence Lebowitz grudgingly becomes an expat’s wife. Her adventure ranges from looking for a Filipino maid, and the headaches that go with it, and living the life of a frat student–partying with other expats almost everyday. Reading the book is like going through the thoughts of a 13 year old school girl who has yet to overcome the perils of adolescence. (Mood swings and pure grade A bitchiness)
No nationality is spared from her sonar, imitating her Canadian friend, “Will you give me that baig please?”, checking out her Swede friend’s grand breasts and butt, and introducing an Irish friend “She has 3 daughters whose names are Caoughin, Byrehrn, and Siebheidn, but of course, they are pronounced as Lisa, Kim, and Ann, respectively” Ok, the last one I found funny, but there’s more criticisms of her surroundings (both places and people) than storyline. The only thing that is appreciated is the food.
And she’s in Singapore, for crying out loud. I can’t imagine how many verses of whinings she will have if she goes to the neighboring countries. She did go to Malaysia, and her accounts are predictably like a high school composition. (“I can’t believe we’re eating this icky food and feeding it to my children”)
The story ends (thankfully!) with her joining a triathlon, and placing fourth. At last, something productive from her runnung/excercise addiction. The husband also announces that the boss is cutting their 3 year placement short, and to her surprise, she is reluctant to leave Singapore afterall.
I don’t believe that all expats are fat pampered pumpkins, but this ‘memoir’ is a bratty and ungrateful diary that just about fortifies the generalization that expats are indeed, spoiled.
One shouldn’t take this book seriously, and its not hard to do that with a cover And a title as such. The problem is, even if you do take it lightly, it will still weave its way into your nerves.