Pete's Reviews > Travels in Siberia

Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier
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's review
Nov 07, 2011

really liked it

Having never read anything by Ian Frazier before, my hopes were initially high for this book. I've long been fascinated by Siberia, much in the same way that the author is. (I haven't hopped a flight to Novosibirsk yet, but you never know.) About a third of the way through the book I found myself tiring of what I considered to be Frazier's constant manic-depressive descriptions of what he was experiencing. Something lovely, then something terrible. A nice conversation, then getting into some kind of fight with his somewhat ornery travel companions. It wore on me so much that I relegated it to some never-visited corner of my Kindle for months. (I totally didn't exile it to Kindle Siberia, haw haw haw.) Maybe we just needed a break in the same way that high-school romances also need a break; you really want to not deal with whatever it is that you're dealing with for a while, and you're too chicken to just say "it's over" and end everything, so you come up with a ridiculous reason ("You like the green jujubes, and I like orange best") and slap a ridiculous label on the whole situation ("...We need a break") and bury your head in the sand.

I digress.

I came back to finish the job, so to speak, and once I learned to adapt to the narrative's constant ups and downs, I really started to enjoy it. Not really to the extent that an abused spouse learns to tolerate and accept their drunken partner's insanity, but more along the lines of the respect players on opposing sports teams might grant each other. All in all, I'm happy that I grew to enjoy and finish this travelogue, yet I'm really worried that my upcoming tenure in that part of the world will be filled with the same bipolar emotional cycles. I'd pack some lithium but I hear it just bubbles out of the ground near Lake Baikal; why bother?

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