Thank you for visiting my website. World travel has been a huge part of my life since I was twenty years old. After all of these exotic experiences, I wanted to share it in some form. Combined with my interests in history and satire, what was the best way to accomplish this task? A novel!
Thomas Gephardt is a world traveller. Or at least he would like to be one. Determined to leave the confines of his sheltered upbringing in the United States, he voyages to France to expand his horizons. He spends three months with a French family in Bordeaux, working in a local hotel. Inspired by these experiences, Thomas has plans to continue travelling. However, a romantic interest in Paris—an Israeli woman named Sendi—complicates matters. He leaves but remains in contact with Sendi while he lives abroad in Japan as an English teacher and then in Israel as a volunteer on a kibbutz.
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? On the lighter side, 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.
Bill Bryson meets J.D. Salinger, The Perfect Culture is full of satirical observations and thoughtful analysis of travel, people, and customs.
If you're not sure if you want to buy, no problem! You can read the first seventy pages for free here. The yellow Order link takes you to several options, including Amazon. The Amazon listing is labeled "Kindle", but if you click this, you can also buy the paperback (and audiobook). The blue order link takes you to Google Play, which is a cheaper price.
If you prefer to support indie bookstores, click on the indies link.
"On the bright side, his college classes had given him a greater theoretical awareness about lands beyond American borders, but Thomas strongly preferred to have real, tactile experiences of these places. Showing would be far more meaningful than telling."
"Everything will not be easily comprehensible from day one here. This may truly be like the real-life version of a French film where the plot is not easily defined, and at times, I get very frustrated from the lack of clear meaning and direction. But some of these vague French films have been ultimately satisfying when I persevered through them. Hopefully this experience will also be that way."
Audiobook Sample-Chapter One Narrated by David George
"Full of wry humor and sharp wit...Thomas’s evocations of different cities, his reflective, humorous inner dialogue in the middle of real conversations, and his unique take on people and places make the reading a real delight...Robins’s atmospheric settings and unique storytelling combined with brisk narrative and vibrant prose make this novel appealing to fans of both general fiction and travel fiction... this charming novel will make the reader wish for a sequel featuring Thomas Gephardt."
-The Prairies Book Review
"This book shines a light on the significance of immersing yourself in other cultures and overcoming the cultural faux pas which we inevitably commit when traveling. Robins conveys all of this through humor, empathy, and by using a protagonist who is easy to relate to. Therefore, readers ought to find this one a compelling read...The novel will encourage young readers to pack a bag and leave the perimeters of their everyday lives, and even for me, as a thirty-something-year-old to take a sabbatical and be Thomas again for a year."
-Independent Book Review
"Having traveled to some of the countries explored in the book myself, Thomas’s experiences resonate and it is obvious that Brent has written the book after researching customs and people. Brent’s swift and engaging writing style and story ultimately present the fact that global travel is a must for every person where possible. It not only opens up the mind to new possibilities but also makes us realize how similar we all are in spite of superficial differences, which is a crucial lesson for anyone to learn. I would highly recommend this book."
"Thomas’s adventure is thrilling and thought-provoking at every turn. This may be the least expensive world trip that a reader could buy. The Perfect Culture is vivid with the tastes of exotic foods, the nuances of how people interact and the ways in which travel changes a person...Just like Thomas, the reader will feel like a new person by the end."
Sign up for my monthly newsletter and receive a bonus pack! Bonus pack includes
1) A few pages of the very first draft, with author and editor comments
2) Interesting facts about the less famous cities in the novel
3) A list of foreign words in the novel, with translations
4) A post about one of my more notable experiences in Japan. It involved some drama!
I currently live in the Cleveland, Ohio area. I have many diverse interests, such as reading, singing (choir and karaoke), exercise, and movies.
I grew up in Northwest Ohio (near Toledo), and in the U.S., I have also lived in Ann Arbor, Austin, and Washington D.C. (metro area). I have lived in four countries overseas and visited forty-two others. I usually take one international trip each year. Last year, I really went off the beaten path, sojourning to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. This year, I traveled to Iceland, which is a more conventional tourist stop. It was definitely a great time; I love the Nordic countries!
It's always great for indie writers to hear from readers. Feel free to write to me: brent_robins_author [at] writeme.com
GET IN TOUCH
We'd love to hear from you
1) Do you see Thomas as a fair-minded protagonist? Does he make an earnest effort to understand each place, or does he jump to conclusions too quickly?
2) What is the main message that you took away from reading the book?
3) Would you place this novel within the "humor" genre? Why or why not?
4) If you had to list other genres for this novel, which ones would you choose?
5) What did you think about the writing style? How does it compare to some other novels that you've read?
6) The back text describes this novel as "Bill Bryson meets J.D. Salinger". Why do you think that the book is described this way? Is Thomas a twenty-first century Holden Caulfield?
7) Which section of the book was your favorite? Least favorite?
8) The novel primarily takes place in France, Japan, and Israel. Which country sounds the most appealing to travel to? Which country sounds the most appealing to live in?
9) If this novel were made into a movie, who should play Thomas?