Thomas Gephardt loses no love for his rural Indiana home. Struck with raging wanderlust, the small-town college student heads for France armed with nothing but a thirst for stimulating conversation. So starts Thomas’s ego-bruising first leg of his ill-fated quest for cultural perfection.
Struggling to fit in at the catty French cafés, Thomas expands his search to the bustling city streets of Japan and the quiet devotion of an Israeli Kibbutz. But after each stopover leaves him with more questions than answers, he worries no location will check every box on his ideal society list.
Throughout his explorations, Thomas attempts to probe deeply into his experiences and to ponder big questions: What is the value of foreign travel? What is unique about each of these three cultures? How is each country shaped by its history?
Will Thomas find his far-flung utopian land, or is this American expat lost in transit?
The Perfect Culture is a darkly satirical standalone travel novel. Thomas has a variety of experiences-he is seen as a “quasi-alien” in a French restaurant, he wonders if he can meet expectations as a “talking monkey” in Japan, and he is informed that, unlike in The Big Lebowski, he definitely cannot roll on Shabbos in Israel.
If you enjoy candid cultural commentary, unique and extensive internal reflections, and detailed descriptions, then you’ll love Brent Robins’s international lampoon.