Saturday, August 25, 2007

One big damn hard slog

I had heard good things about One Big Damn Puzzler, by John Harding. It had received good reviews, and I like British authors, so when I opened it up and began reading I was expecting good things. I was not expecting to have to slog my way through sentences like "You is say he is rest for get rid of we so you is can talk". I'm all for acknowledging cultural diversity and for incorporating local patois in a novel, but I just don't have the strength for 500 pages of pidgin English.
If you would like to read a book about a Westerner attempting to adjust to life on a South Pacific atoll island, I recommend The Sex Lives of Cannibals: adrift in the Equatorial Pacific, by Maarten J. Troost. It has the self-deprecating humor and low-key tone one associates with British writers (although Troost is actually Dutch, but it's all one big European Union now, right?). You learn a lot about daily life on an atoll and the way the local inhabitants have cherry-picked various pieces of Western culture to incorporate into their lives. Oh yeah, and it's wicked funny.

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