Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS Digest V3 #244

From: Juri Nummelin (
Date: 11 May 2000

Kevin Burton Smith wrote:

> America - I've just learnt about it.
> What? Didn't Columbus mention it?

No, he kept quiet. It was that Amerigo guy who got all the credit. (These foreign idioms are sometimes so *exotic* that it's not easy to tell things with them. Try to say it in Finnish!)

> After all, most of us don't go down very mean streets on a day to day basis, even
> Americans, and
> despite the occasional outburst of macho posturing, most of us are
> smart enough not to want to.

Nor would I want to be a Philip Marlowe.

> Oh, and one quibble. Americans and Canadians are not interchangeable.

I figured out as much, but it just came out of my fingers. Sorry if I offended anyone, American or Canadian.

> But I find hard-boiled books set outside the U.S. really intriguing,
> the way an originally very American idiom has been adapted and
> retooled to fit every country in the world. Sometimes it's an easy
> fit, and sometimes it requires major retooling, but overall,
> generally, whether the book is good or bad, the result is usually
> very interesting, and often fascinating.

You obviously haven't read any German spy thrillers like Jerry Cotton or Rex McCormick? Awful stuff, nothing fascinating about them. But I wouldn't say "every country". Vietnamese hardboiled thriller? Russian one? (Well, maybe now, but even then it seems so - exotic.) But then again, we just saw there were Liberian hardboiled thrillers. (Accidentally, John B. West isn't mentioned in the dictionary of African writers. I just checked.)


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