I stumbled across Gregory Buford’s book through one of those targeted Facebook ads. I know, I usually ignore them too – but how could I pass up a free book! I downloaded Kept: An American Househusband in India and started it immediately, excited to try out my new kindle.
I could not put this book down. I loved it. Part of the reason I loved this book is because I could relate to so many of the emotions: my husband (also Greg!) and I moved to Japan with the JET Programme right out of college. It’s fascinating to experience a completely different culture, and the best souvenir we took home were our stories.
Greg Buford has been kind enough to share his tales, and trust me, you do not want to pass these stories up. He explores the difficulty of living in a different country and culture and how hard it is to readjust when you get back home. There are stories about people from different countries, castes, and backgrounds, as well as his personal struggles with parenting, adoption, and staying home – all in a different county. I’m fascinated by other cultures and don’t know much about India, so several stories were extremely eye-opening, especially the story about dumping trash on the side of the road. It was wonderful to read these personal experiences through the eyes of an American because they were so relatable, yet completely unexpected. My favorite stories in particular were about the ghost that wasn’t really a ghost (or was it?) and the taxi driver strike. There’s a lot of humor, but also a lot of heart in Kept, not to mention the cultural lessons. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys short stories, memoirs, travel, or different cultures.
After reading his book, I decided to take a chance and contact Greg to see if he’d be willing to answer a few questions. To my delight, he agreed! Here’s my brief interview with Greg:
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Like, always. I never not wanted to be a writer. From the moment I read my first word, which was “Boo!” in a Casper the Friendly Ghost comic, I knew I wanted to use writing to affect people.
How long did it take you to write Kept? What was the hardest section to write?
Kept began as e-mail dispatches to family and friends from India in 2000, and, well, I published it in September of 2018. Do the math: a long time. Let me take that back. I finished the first draft in 2002. Then life intervened, and here we are. Hardest to write? None of it!
My favorite story is about you pretending to be a ghost; what in the world made you think to do that?
Yeah, that was a lot of fun! If you knew me better you wouldn’t ask this question. That’s the norm for me. When my kids were little, they appreciated this goofy side in me. Now, not so much.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone moving overseas to a country where they didn’t speak the language, what would it be?
I found that in most difficult, frustrating situations I either wanted to laugh, cry or get angry. Choose laughter.
What are you working on now?
I’m 100K words into a comedic farce about Bob, a corporate warrior in Austin, Texas. When his boss sexually harasses him and he reports it, he finds his job deleted in the next round of lay-offs. His wife, Julia, runs off with the right-wing nut down the street and, at the age of fifty-five, Bob loses everything and winds up homeless. It’s going to be hilarious!
I’m also starting a screen adaptation of my novel, Making Ghosts Dance.
Is there anything you’d like to plug?
Read my novel Making Ghosts Dance! It’s a dark thriller set among the American diplomatic community in Cambodia. Be warned; it deals with the subject of child sex tourism, and, while it is fiction, the situations described in the book are very sadly true-to-life.
Right now I’m reading Homegoing by Yaa Gsasi and am loving the heck out of it.
And of course I needed to ask some silly things:
Toilet paper: over or under?
Over, of course! There are only two kinds of people in this world: overs and crazy people. When my mom told me she’s an under, well, it’s…it’s just too painful…
What’s your favorite book? Why?
Sorry! Too many to decide. But my favorite movie is Life is Beautiful with Roberto Benigni, because it’s about the self-sacrifice and love of a father for his child.