“. . .  since in America curiosity counts as a social grace. Tina was highly evasive in answering me, since in Europe satisfying curiosity of my sort counts as a betrayal. Americans serve themselves and their friends up as stories, laced with pathos and spiced with scandal, the dish piping hot on demand. A European discloses himself, if that word can be used to suggest a series of locks opening and shutting, the whole slow and cautious. For an American a confidence is an ice-breaker and we describe our grandmother’s suicide with the same desire to appear amiable that a European employs in commenting on the unseasonably warm weather. We forget what we’ve told to whom, whereas Europeans tremble and go pale when they decide to reveal something personal. In Europe an avowal counts as a precious sign of commitment; in America it maounts to nothing more than a how-do-you-do.”

(Edmund White, The Farewell Symphony, p. 87.)

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