Lost Cosmonaut Paperback – 2 Feb 2006
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"Kalder has written a brilliantly funny travel book that questions the essence of exploration and the nature of tourism in an age when there's nowhere new to go."-- "Esquire" (UK)
Lost Cosmonaut documents the incredible travels of Daniel Kalder, in a book which is an eye-opening, blackly comic tour of the most alien planet in our cosmos: Earth.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Kalder sets out as an 'anti-tourist' visiting these undesirable places and casting a realistic eye over them and their prospects; yet the same eye also contains a deep empathy towards these people and their invisible countries. Kalder's black humour carries the book from history to personal encounter (or non-encounter) with ease, and his revelations broaden out the view well beyond four republics you've never heard of.
Kalder states at the beginning that 'travel rarely broadens the mind', and travel books even more rarely do so. But this one does, brilliantly.
Kalder describes himself as an "anti-tourist", in search of the opposite of the kind of thing that would normally attract visitors; scenery, history, good food, weather etc., and he certainly finds it in these out of the way places. By the end of the book he wasn't really sure why he'd made these journeys, and neither was I, but he's done us all a service in locating those exotic destinations that you really don't want go to, and it's an entertaining read.
I found a guy, who doesn't want to go to the Republics, just for the sake of laughing at or mocking these people, he wants to see what makes them tick. Base level travelling. Maybe it's like 'base jumping' or something. The book's not perfect, but it made me want to read more, and for me, that's very good.
I didn't know about a couple of these republics, shame on historian me. But then again, the Russians really did get around during the Soviet period. So much territory to cover.
It's a fairly easy read, but with substance; heart. Something for those of you who aren't just interested in pretty pictures or coffee table books from Travel Writers. This guy's also lived in Moscow for quite a few years, which frankly scares me more than these Republics. My own dream is to go to Kamchatka; I saw a guy pulling a huge fish out of a stream on TV, with his bare hands. That I want to see.
Love it or hate it. Kalder has his own style. He's flippant at times, but not as shallow as some reviewers would paint him. He has more soul that most snap happy travellers you see around these days. He gets himself 'in' there. As drab as the reality may be - yes, sometimes it really is just drab. But it's real.
What I miss, however, is any real depth to the book, and I only rarely had the feeling that the author really got under the surface of the places he visited. Instead, he tends to use them as the butt for a barrage of the aforementioned jokes, which at some point cheapens the narrative, adding an air that sometimes borders on a kind of colonialist arrogance. There comes a point when the reader - or at least I - really wants to know more about what the people in these places are dealing with, what motivates or moves them. This is lacking.
At the same time, the author has a habit of making wholesale generalisations (e.g. "Iran is a hellhole" - in fact it is anything but), which are based either on exuberance in his own writing, a degree of immaturity or complete ignorance. These sorts of comments, as well as a baffling eagerness to repeatedly use the term "cumstain", become genuinely irritating. Moreover, anyone who has travelled extensively around FSU countries (as I have had the mixed fortune of doing) will realise that the author is rather less intrepid than he makes himself out to be, but ultimately that is not so important.
That said, I suppose that at no point did the author set out to achieve a work of depth, and his chief aim is presumably to take the reader to unexpected, quirky locations and recount amusing anecdotes about them. So if you take the book for what it is - a superficial, often amusing account brief trips to Russian backwaters (not that Kazan is really a backwater) - then it does succeed in this and makes for entertaining reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Daniel Kalder's wanderings around the anti tourist destinations of Russia really hits the mark. Great concept and an equally good insight into parts of the country seldom visited... Read morePublished on 29 Aug. 2012 by Bridport Beth
Daniel Kalder casts his sarcastic eye over his own life in Moscow, and then takes it with him to some of Russia's almost-forgotten republics, dragging friends and strays with him... Read morePublished on 20 Jan. 2012 by Niko Nezna
Any one who tells you this is a travel book is stretching the point it is travel in that the author travels. Read morePublished on 19 Jan. 2010 by A. Browne
I don't usually write online reviews, but on seeing that this book was getting some decent ones, felt obliged to do so. This is hands down the worst book on Russia I've ever read. Read morePublished on 24 Dec. 2008 by David Lazarus
I have nothing against a casual style of writing, in fact travel writing often works better when you can identify with the person. Read morePublished on 2 Sept. 2008 by Lizard
I really enjoyed this book! There is something poetic in Kalder's writing that I haven't encountered before. Highly recommended!Published on 9 Aug. 2008 by Alexandros
Did you know there was a Buddhist republic in Europe? And a desert for that matter? Or a pagan republic? Read morePublished on 2 Feb. 2008 by D. Humphries
Two stars for effort, because I realise that writing a book must be a difficult, demanding process for the writer, no matter what the end product looks like. Read morePublished on 27 Aug. 2007 by Pavel
This book is no great work of literature, as other reviewers have already pointed out. Kalder has one great piece of insight, however, which I must presume he intended. Read morePublished on 11 Aug. 2007 by ourmark