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4.3 out of 5 stars
Playing The Moldovans At Tennis
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2001
Well, if you thought the whole fridge think was mad - Tonys next bet is to play the Moldovan football team at tennis! Not daft in the slightest.
He certainly takes his bets to heart does the guy and never shirks from his (drunken!!) promises. But how the heck do you go about arranging something like that? Read this book and find out - Funny, interesting and completely readable.
You will be perched on the end of your seat as you find out whether or not he reaches his goal and win the bet (much more exciting than many a thriller read) - another absolute must read book.
What is his next bet? ....... I am afraid I can only guess, but it will probably include alcohol somewhere along the line!!! and possibly a bathroom appliance - the mind boggles!!!!!!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2001
I only bought the book because it was cheap, but what a bargain!
Within 2 pages, I was hooked by the intriguing bet, and made sure I had the book open at every opportunity.
This is by far the funniest book I have read in the last year, and the way Tony Hawks effortlessly injects humour into even the most seemingly dull situation is brilliant.
Like the previous reviewer, I have ordered the "Round Ireland" book, and if it is half as entertaing as this, I won't be disappointed.
Have I mentioned brilliant yet?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2006
Playing the Moldovans of Tennis is the most amazing read. All through the book you are falling to pieces from laughter. In fact, I don't there is a jokeless page.
Tony does not talk about himself constantly, as a previous reviewer suggests. He often reflects on the sadness and desperation of the people of Moldova, and yet also how easily bonding they are once you get to know them.
His whole story is based on the fact that a seemingly futile quest can inspire hope and a little bit of light heartedness in to the hearts of those who need it most. This is a book that must be red by all. A good game.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
As a die-harder on CIS traveling, I do my best in ready every travelouge written on the former Soviet republics - some works, some do not work and some are great. Tony Hawks book is - against all odds - in the category of guids that works.

The reason why Hawks has the odds against him for writing a travelouge that works (and under no circumstances is capable of writing a great travelouge) is that is simply doesn't have a clue about Moldova. As anyone that succeeds with making a living out of something he doesn't have a clue about, he does not try to behave like he is an expert, he chooses a subject most other people don't have a clue about either and of course it does not hurt that he has a great humour and a lot of good spirit.

As a consequence of his approach though, the book is probably more interesting AFTER you have visited Moldova (or as entertainment for you that have no intention what so ever to go there - a market segment I suspect to be much bigger) than as preperation before you go.

2 other CIS travelogues come to my mind after reading Playing the Moldovans at tennis. Hennighan's Lost Province and Bissel's Chasing the Sea. Hennighan does not work, Bissel has written a great travelouge. The reason why Hennighan's book does not work is that as he as Hawks lacks background information about Moldova and the CIS, lacks humour and - more important - the self irony and conciousness about his own lack of background on the subject that it takes to write a good travelogue from this startingpoint. It should be stated that if you can live with the anoyments this creates, Hennighans book is quite worthwhile as the period of time he spends in Moldova, the fact that he speaks the language and the fact that he works there, give insights that Hawk's book can not provide. The reason why his travelouge is not great as Bissel's, is exactly because he does not even try to get a clue about the subject before he started writing. One can very well argue though that Hawk never intended to write a travelouge in this traditional sense.

Funny book - good observations!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2000
Definitely the best book I've read this century. Once I'd started reading it, it became like my cat - who snored alongside me throughout - impossible to put down.
Tony Hawks has that Bill Bryson ability to make mundane situations seem fascinating and imbued with significance. His descriptions of Moldovan everyday life (hellish public transport, intransigent officials, dour populace) are hilarious and ring true to anyone who has travelled in Eastern Europe.
In all: excellent jokes, lots of splendid digressions and a gripping storyline (ie who will end up getting naked?).
It'll cost you a Moldovan's monthly wage but definitely money well spent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2000
As a sedentary female,interested in neither football, nor tennis, and definately with no interest in the stupid bets made by drunken men, my heart did not soar when I was given this book. However, I was pleasantly surprised when a bad cold left me temporarily in need of a book to read, and I fell back on this one. Tony Hawks creates the sort of atmosphere in which all things are possible, even the impossible, and wins the heart of all the Moldavians (well, a few of them anyway!)
Is it a good read? Certainly! Do you need to be sporty? Not at all!
I really surprised myself, and enjoyed it thoroughly!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2001
I originally bought this book purely because I have spent some time in Eastern Europe and wanted to see if someone else had the same strange experiences as myself. What I got however, was so much more than that. Despite the warning on the cover I made the mistake of starting to read the book on the bus and will probably be known forever more by my fellow rush hour passengers as "that strange woman who makes sudden and unattractive cackling noises to herself".
Whilst the book is never going to receive official recognition from the Moldovan Tourist Board it does give a realistic and honest portrayal of what life is like in a post-communist country. The relationship Tony develops with his host family is deeply touching and adds a level of feeling which balances nicely against some of the absurd comic situations he finds himself in.
Whether you're looking for a travel diary, comic caper, exploration of Moldovan culture or just want to know who got naked on Balham Road then this book has it for you.
Funniest bit: Tony's intimate relationship with a spare bus tyre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Not a bad book, very funny in spots, but I thought that there were too many jokes -- which sounds like an odd complaint in a humor book, akin to complaining about too much meat in sausages, which come to think about what I've heard about British sausages may not have been the most apt comparison but never mind. What I mean is that rather than rely upon the inherent oddity of the situations he found himself, Hawks seemed to be compelled to insert joking asides -- using wedges and sledgehammers if necessary -- a case of painting the lily, as it were.
I can't comment on the accuracy of his picture of the Moldovans, but I did cringe a bit at the stereotypical portrait of the American radio executive he encountered in Moldova. I expect in the TV version he'd be played by a large, red-faced actor with a loud voice and vowel-crunching enunciation.
Despite these qualms, another fine addition to the literature of Journeys Taken By Comedians to Pay Off Drunken Bets (see also "Round Ireland with a Fridge")
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
How to come up with a novel concept!!!! While watching the England football team's opponents a minor celebrity friend challenges the author to play & beat each of them at tennis!!! The book takes you on the authors round the world (or is it twist)journey which becomes strangely compelling and will undoubtedly have you willing on our hero. Against the odds - game set and match Tony Hawks!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2002
I really enjoyed this book, and didn't have any preconceptions of Tony Hawks to distract me. I vaguely recognised him from seeing his stand up and TV work, but not enough to have any real opinion of him. I liked 'Round Ireland with a Fridge' which a friend lent me, but I got a lot more out of the second book, as I suspect Tony Hawks got more out of the second trip.
It really does make you laugh out loud on the tube, which should be enough to recommend any book, but as Tony gets to know his hosts and the personalities behind the public faces of grey, dreary post-Communist ground-down Moldovans, there are some genuinely touching moments. The finale is especially heart warming - I won't give away the end, but suffice to say, whether he wins the bet or not, you leave the book with a big smile on your face.
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