Americanization and why I (heart) Ray Banks

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.

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Comment by Christa Faust on July 10, 2007 at 1:45am
The what?!? Oh, you mean the CHECK. Can't you Brits spell anything right?

Seriously, Ray, kindness don't enter into it. I might be the biggest bitch ever born and your books would still be brilliant.
Comment by Evil Kev on July 9, 2007 at 11:38am
As a fan of Ray Bank's work (as well as other British, Scottish and Irish authors), I think it is critical that the language, slang and jargon remain the intact. These elements contribute to the sense of place that makes his work feel authentic.

Imagine how strange it would sound if, for example, Harry Bosch started to talk like he was fresh off the boat from Aberdeen. People would feel the character was no longer true to the setting. After all, people don't talk like that in LA.
Comment by Karen from AustCrime on July 9, 2007 at 10:13am
I have to confess to constantly being mystified by the push to "Americanise" books as they go into that market. Here we speak fluent Australian - British - Asian - Scandinavian - European - American - whatever other version of English there is because that's how it's presented on our TV's, in our books, movies, wherever - nothings ever "Australianised" and because of that it's a much richer language and experience. Sure I'd like a hell of a lot more Australian English around here these days - but I can still understand it when I read it / hear it :)
Comment by John Dishon on July 9, 2007 at 5:17am
Agreed. I'm American, but I don't mind British words. It makes the story more real. I don't want everyone to talk the same unless they really do, and of course not everyone does talk the same.

Why you would spell it "tyre" instead of "tire" is baffling to me, but if that's what the British use, then in a British book it should be tyre

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