The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia

Mark Ames, Author, Matt Taibbi, Author, Matt Taibbi, Joint Author Grove Press $17.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8021-3652-7
In 1997, two American college-educated slackers began publishing the eXile, a no-holds-barred newspaper, in Moscow. The paper includes irreverent discussions of Russia's sex and drug scene and off-color humor pieces, such as an article poking fun at a U.S. African-American basketball player who was toiling for a Moscow team after he was kicked out of the NBA following a forced sodomy charge in the U.S. Their attitude toward Russia's expatriate community, including themselves, is clear: ""Any affluent or even middle-class American who renounces the good life of sushi and 50-channel cable delivery"" is ""motivated by a highly destructive personality defect."" The pranks the newspaper plays are entertaining: convincing an aide to Mikhail Gorbachev that New York Jets football coach Bill Parcells wanted the former Soviet leader to give a series of inspirational pep talks to his team, for example. The eXile also takes on the herd mentality of reporters, managing to convince one of its rival papers that basketball hall-of-famer Wilt Chamberlain was considering a comeback in Russia. (In between its humor and its testosterone, the eXile has reported some important stories, most notably that much aid money from the U.S. went directly into the hands of some top Russian politicians.) Only those with a National Lampoon mentality will enjoy the descriptions of the editors' sexual conquests and their comparisons of Russian and American women. Like much of the paper itself, the book, which recounts the newspaper's history, is tasteless. There's little doubt, however, that both incisively probe contemporary Russian reality--and the expatriate mindset. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/27/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
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