I’ve been reading lots of British authors lately and it’s got me wondering about the whole Americanization debate. The claim that the average American reader can’t handle unfamiliar British spellings and books by Brits ought to be “Americanized” in order to sell to the McDonalds and Starbucks set.
Well, if the average American reader can’t cope with words like “tyre” or “kerb,” they’d probably be utterly mystified by Ray Banks’ Cal Innes novels. Which is a shame, because they’re missing out on some of the toughest, sharpest and most compulsively addictive modern hardboiled crime fiction I’ve come across in ages. I can't recommend these books highly enough.
Sure, it took me some time and effort to fall comfortably into the rhythm of Banks’ slang-laden and powerfully un-American voices, but, like driving or sex, worthwhile reading isn’t always comfy and simple. Which I guess is my point. A lot of people want to “shut their brain off” and “relax” while enjoying their entertainment of choice. (That’s why TV is so much more popular than reading.) I’m not one of those people. Sure, I like slam-bang straight-up simple pulp fiction as much as the next guy, but I also enjoy reading that really puts my brain through its paces. An intelligent American reader who can handle a book like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE should have no problem with SATURDAY’S CHILD. Those who can’t should probably just stick with bland bestselling beach-reads so they don’t hurt themselves.