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Weirdest book review ever

There are, obviously, strong historical connections between Australia and the UK. These have created cultural similarities – probably more and closer than most Australians would be willing to admit. The two countries are diverging as time passes, but Australia’s still culturally closer to the UK than anywhere else I’ve visited outside of the British Isles.

However, it still strikes me as very strange, bordering on lunacy, for a US reviewer to take an Australian book by an Australian writer set in Australia about Australian suburban life, and use it to hang the conclusion:

The Slap’s the work of the moment for a nation that I met more at the pubs and picnic tables of England than in any other book I’ve read. It’s the book of the great muttering resistance of England, a dark-witted, vote-nay group who could rival the American Tea Party for influence if they could only agree on a bar at which to meet.

Read the whole thing, if you’re also in the market for bemused American reflections on how Cheryl Cole sounds like Dick Van Dyke (this may explain his difficulty in telling Brits and Aussies apart), and how Londoners are violent, Friends-obsessed drunks who sound like Liam Gallagher making a cameo in Trainspotting. Alternatively, don’t.

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  1. Paul
    August 26, 2010 at 7:23 am | #1

    Malta? Gibraltar? Falkland Islands perhaps? They are all closer to the UK than Australia culturally, I'd imagine. British TV can be received by satellite in Malta and Gibraltar and through BFBS in the Falklands.

  2. August 26, 2010 at 9:29 am | #2

    Malta's Catholic and English isn't their first language, so I'm fairly sure not.

    Falklands, I'll definitely give you from what I've read (haven't been there, or to NZ). Probably also Gibraltar, although I'm told the culture there is more Spanish and less British than you'd expect.

    While you can't get British TV *channels* here in Aus, you certainly get a great deal of British TV…

  3. August 26, 2010 at 7:49 pm | #3

    Not read “Slap” but from what I gather about the story it concerns the impact on the private sphere of an event which is dragged into the public sphere , ie the slap itself . I am guessing then that the ghastly under-belly this reviewer claims to have detected consists of the normal range of opinion opposed to multicultural feminist and / or Liberal values . Sounds like a sort of Aussie John Updike with a bit of politics. Is that it ?

    In Lewes , a nappy valley with many a barbecue we have recently had a convulsion sparkled by Sunday Times hack David James Smith who wrote a six page article in the Sunday Times Supplement entitled “Not from Round Here” about Lewes and the alleged racisms suffered by his mixed race family . He also drew attention to supposed split between DLT`s ( down from London ) and the supposedly intolerant Lewesians as well as the anti Catholic bigotry of the Firework societies ~( bit of local thing ).
    His children actually attend the same school my eldest does and as the father of a mixed race family myself I am certain as you can be that it was just his shtick publicising the book ( he has one out of course). Caused an immense row though and hundreds of outraged comments on Lewes Forum. The only problem is that it is just not true, there is no horrifying pit of prejudice it just suited the writer to invent one , more exciting that way .
    Seemed as if it might be similar territory in real life but I `m guessing, perhaps that should be my novel….

  4. Matthew
    August 26, 2010 at 11:25 pm | #4

    Gibraltar wasn't a blank slate like Australia (ignoring the aborigines) and so the population is quite varied from the countries surrounding it as well as the UK. The centre does have (although apparently far less than it did) the atmosphere of a British naval town, but I don't think the people are particularly.

    Discuss – do the four parts of the UK have more in common with each other than any other country has in common with any single part?

  5. August 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm | #5

    Hmm. The only serious candidate I can think of against that is Northern Ireland – Republic of Ireland [*]. No way in hell I know enough to make a decision either way on which side NI is culturally closest to…

    The CIs and Isle of Man are obviously more like rural England and Scotland respectively than rural England and Scotland is like London or Glasgow, but they're not really countries (if we followed the French approach, they'd be counties). Ditto the Falklands, St Helena, etc, if things I've heard are vaguely accurate.

    Australia, NZ and parts of Canada can sometimes feel quite *British*, but the British influence is a complete mix of English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh. And obviously Canada is more USA-ish than any of the above anyway.

    [*] yes, and Taiwan isn't really called Taiwan, but I'll still call it that when I'm writing a piece comparing it with China…

  6. September 22, 2010 at 11:02 pm | #6

    Didn't figured it out that Cheryl Cole sounds like Dick Van Dyke, hmm.. you may be right!

  7. April 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm | #7

    You may be sure of that, David W.

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