Sunday, June 18, 2006


American As She Is Spoke

In today's Telegraph Philip Hensher addresses an age-old question: why are American and British novelists so awful at imitating each other's dialogue? Naturally, much of the article is dedicated to cringeworthy American attempts at British diction. Not only is this is like shooting fish in barrel, it's like shooting them in one marked "BARREL OF FISH: PLEASE SHOOT US."

Say, remember when Jim Varney tried to play a European prince on Roseanne? No? Anyway, it turns out The Da Vinci Code is pretty much like that:

The idea of English life in The Da Vinci Code is hilarious enough. "I was knighted," the villainous Sir Leigh Teabing explains as he prepares to skip customs and immigration on landing in Britain. "Membership [sic] has its privileges."

But it's his speech that really nails the ludicrousness. "Just because I am returning to the Queen's realm does not mean I intend to subject my palate to bangers and mash for the rest of my days. I'm planning to buy a splendid villa in Devon…"

To be fair, British books are almost equally inept at imitating Americans. But only one has ever surpassed our unutterably egregious dialogue, and it goes strangely unmentioned by Hensher: DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little.

Mark my words: DBC is the Karl May of our time.

Hey, wait a second....

He IS Karl May!

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