Mister Monday

Abe Gross argross at bigpond.net.au
Thu Sep 11 23:50:10 EDT 2003


I have the feeling that someone else has already spoken about this, but as I can't remember exactly you'll have to forgive the repetition.

I've been reading Garth Nix's _Mister Monday_ and have some mixed reactions to it so far. It's chock full of wonderful and zany ideas, and despite the fact that it's obviously the first in a long series, it's far from formulaic or simple. But one thing--or the permutations of one thing--has been bothering me. Although Nix is Australian, and my copy is from an Australian edition (Allen and Unwin) it is subtly American in feel and language. It's set in the modern world in a nondescript town or city that is definitely not Australian in feel. That isn't really a problem in itself except that lots of little touches gives it a definite but generically American feel. Just one example is the mention of "the seventh grade", a definitely American term that isn't used in Australia. There are lots of similar other examples, some so subtle that most Americans probably wouldn't notice, but which tells Australians that it's not really in their lingo. An example of such a subtle difference is the mention several times of the main character being "in the hospital". Not that it would be *never* used, but Aussies tend not to put it that way. Instead, Aussies would be more likely to refer to someon being "in hospital".  

These details don't really matter in the larger scheme of things but I can't help wondering what's going on here. The obvious answer is that the publishers are pandering to the American mass market, but I was surprised to see an Australian edition with an American feel, so maybe Nix has written it this way himself. It's not that I feel that an Aussie writer has to write in a distinctively Australian way (and after all, the Sabriel books weren't specifically "Australian") but it sort of rubs me the wrong way to get such an American feel in a book by an Australian published in Australia. Somehow that has been interfering with my "suspension of disbelief"in reading the book. It makes me feel that the whole thing is being "dumbed down" somehow. It also has the disadvantage of not being set in a specific place with its own details and colour, which again seems to "dumb it down" for me.

If anyone has read this book, I'd appreciate any comments.

Ros
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