Sunday, December 29, 2013

A view from the other side

Book: Across the Pond: An Englishman’s View of America

Author: Terry Eagleton

Published: 2013 (W.W. Norton & Company)

Pages: 178

So I sort of fell off the “no new books until I’m done with the old” wagon. I went on another volunteer-credit-spending spree at the used bookstore, and then I went through all of the library’s New Releases posts  from April until the first week of December and made a list (in four parts of 50 each) of every book from those that I want to check out –

But hell, I figure if I only check out one library book at a time and keep the “bought” books in my car and don’t spent actual money until I am in fact done with the rest, I’ll be okay.

I’m telling you all this at the top of this book’s review because I’m procrastinating in telling you that there’s not a hell of a lot in here. It was a disappointing mishmash of vague philosophies that were both less humorous than I wanted them to be and less profound than the author meant them to be.

The normal gentle jabs are there: the accents, blind American optimism vs. dreary British pessimism, American tendency to let it all hang out in public vs. stifling British politeness, pride vs. self-effacement, etc. etc. Why don’t we enjoy a good teapot around here? (I do love my CVS electric kettle if that counts for anything.) Why can’t America shut up? Why can’t England stand up for itself more?

There are answers, well-sprinkled with vague irony, but none of it stirred much envy or patriotism or defensiveness or sudden understanding from me like I was hoping it would. I’m very curious about living in another country and especially the differences between countries that seem like they would naturally share and contrast a lot of small cultural details, but this book didn’t enlighten me very much.

Back to the library it goes. Crossing one off the list (of two hundred…sigh. I was doing so well for like three months there, right?).

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