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Authors deconstruct Europe in a hilarious student guide

Let's Party Europe

Written by Sam E. Khedr, Mark J. Maxam, Jessica Fernandes and Kim Soenen.

Vagabond Publishing, Inc.

By Teresa Esser
Staff Reporter

The time has come," the authors declare. "[The sound of rolling drums in the background] Š it's time for your transatlantic sling-shot. Woohoo! Jubilation! Freedom!! Mayhem!! ANARCHY!!!!"

"You're leaving everything behind," the authors warn, "your family, your significant other, your dog, your car - and, lest we forget, your student loan or Am-Ex payments. The moment has come."

From Amsterdam to Vienna, from London to Monte Carlo, Let's Party Europe introduces readers to an Old World completely unlike the one they learned about in college. Instead of wasting your time telling you useless and largely irrelevant information about the history of the countries you are visiting, authors Sam Khedr and Mark Maxam get straight to the point: How far do readers have to walk to get themselves a pint of Guinness?

The book is divided up into chapters devoted to Europe's largest cities, and each chapter is divided further into sections: Intro, Tourist Spots, the Scene, Night Life, and Observations. Far outside the collegiate sphere of European history, etiquitte, or political correctness, the Europe of Khedr and Maxam is designed for the recent college grad who is as sick of rules as they are.

Viewed from another perspective, Let's Party Europe provides an interesting study into the linguistic limits of artificial intelligence. Vagabond Publishing's computer dictionary caught the glaring spelling errors, but the following homonyms escaped its notice: "a role of film," "Many residence [of a city]," "the scull of a hippopotamus," "the perfect place to kick-pack with a beer or snack while waiting for your morning train," or, of Budapest, "[Hungarian] Babushka mamas rein over their hardy homemade pots." And so on.

However, the social insights and observations made by the extremely friendly and gregarious narrators more than make up for the grammatical discomfort. Take a look at what the authors say about these cities:

Alicante: "Fat Germans on the beach, but so what."

Copenhagen: "Šif your Copenhagen adventure is a one-or two-day kamikaze raid, we suggest you forego the expense of lodging, and just hang out at the Hong Kong."

London: "Everything in London just sits in your face, and any building that has a historical disposition will say so just by looking at it."

Paris: "The ability to sit in a cafe, gracefully killing time and spending money , is an art form in itself that leaves passers-by wondering: 1) How can you afford to sit at a cafe for four hours on a Wednesday afternoon drinking coffee? 2 ) How can you earn enough money to dress so well if you're always sitting at a cafe for four hours at a time drinking coffee?"

The narrators' advice is sound, and much of it has been gleaned first-hand from other American expatriates. From Caroline Lee of Williamsburg, Virginia: "In Madrid, go to Joy Disco - don't let the high price deter you - it's worth it (but get drunk first.)" On the subject of Rome, Stacey Shear from Atlanta, Georgia, observed that "Guys in Italy cinch their jeans really high - they all have wedgies."

On the subject of food, authors Khedr and Maxam cut straight to the facts: "Food-wise, in many ways Europeans are still going through the hunter-gatherer phase of evolutionŠanything they don't obliterate by deep frying, they drown in oil that has the same smell and consistency as Exxon crude."

The narrators have advice on just about everything, from hip-hop to personal hygiene. "If you're worried about wearing the same shirt five days in a row," the authors tell us, "it's okay!ŠRegarding that three day stink you may acquire - a few days smelling around Europe will convince you that nobody will notice."

All jokes aside, this reviewer is certain that MIT grads will appreciate the great length to which the authors have gone to assure fairness and objectivity in their quantitative analysis of Europe's respective dens of inebriation. An establishment's "fun factor" was derived through the use of a far-fetched mathematical equation, as follows: "where C represents capacity in numbers of people; S is the raw size of the establishment; E is the appearance of the exterior; L equals the length of the bar in meters (if there was no bar we entered zero); A is the quantity of alcohol available on premises; P is the average price of beer; D is the decibel level measured at full capacity); G is the layers of graffiti found in the men's room; B is how often the establishment gets busted by the cops; and the upshot - Xis any damn thing we please."

An excellent alternative to traditional travel guides, Let's Party Europe conveys its no-nonsense advice in a humorous, readable, and portable package.