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Playing the Moldovans at Tennis

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Much like in “Round Ireland With a Fridge”, “Playing the Moldovans at Tennis” is more about the people he meets and how he goes about doing what he has to do, rather than the places he goes. Whilst this makes for an interesting read, it doesn’t make it a terribly good travel book, which is what it is technically defined as. However, his experiences of public transport in Moldova are fairly good, although all this leaves you with is a vague knowledge of how to get around the country, but without really knowing where you’d want to go or what you’d do when you get there. As the story unfolds, Tony's desire not to let the family down, particularly ten year old Elena, becomes more important than winning the bet itself.

Playing the Moldovans at Tennis - Penguin Books UK

Follow the fortunes of Tony in this hilarious and often moving adventure as it takes him from Moldova, onwards to Northern Ireland, leading to an exciting denouement in Nazareth - and the naked truth of the bet's final outcome ... Still riding the wave of books on guerilla tourism and gonzo journalism, Hawks was ahead of the curve with his Round Ireland with a Fridge from 2000 as well as this book which was published shortly after, in 2001, though set, mostly, in 1998.Fortunately, Tony Hawks is a different kind of person. His humour is self-depreciating, and he is genuinely interested in getting to know and understand the Moldovans. He is even questioning if he is doing the right thing with his bizarre adventure, which seems to him rather frivolous as time is passing, considering the living conditions of everyone around him. I expected to find this book funny, which it is; I didn't expect to find it illuminating and rather moving, which it is too" ( Daily Mail)

Playing the Moldovans at Tennis | movie | 2012 | Official Playing the Moldovans at Tennis | movie | 2012 | Official

Playing the Moldovans at Tennis by Tony Hawks is the story of Hawks' attempt to a win a bet. A bet, which, to any sane person, would sound utterly ridiculous: that he could beat all of the players that were on the field for the Moldovan national soccer team, in tennis (one on one). Why this bet, of all things? As he and his buddy were watching the game on TV, they decided to debate if athletic ability wins out over skill and knowledge of a game. As Mr. Hawks used to play tennis at a very low competitive level, he was adamant that he could beat athletic individuals, like these soccer players, at his game. So adamant that he was willing to agree to stripping naked and singing the Moldovan national anthem if he wasn't able to beat all 11 players. Pretty daring, but somewhat expected - Mr. Hawks wrote one book previously, Round Ireland with a Fridge, where apparently he walked around Ireland while carrying a fridge, also on a bet. 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 humor and a lot of good spirit. Peter Moore is another example of similar literature, though perhaps one of the best ones is Daniel Kalder's Lost Cosmonaut: Observations of an Anti-Tourist.Despite these trials, Tony's understanding of the country and its problems grow. He develops a strong bond with the family he is lodging with and an unconventional and, at times, downright awkward relationship with Lulian, his translator - a relationship that mirrors the clash of their starkly differing cultures. Cu siguranță că acum nu este așa „faptul că un actor de comedie din Anglia a venit în Moldova ca să încerce să-i bată la tenis pe fotbaliștii din echipa națională a Moldovei nu este o știre de presă”.

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