On Thu, 27 Mar 1997, miketotty wrote:
> On another list, I've heard British,
> Canadian and other authors/readers bemoan the lack of knowledge
> demonstrated by American writers when trying to write about England,
> Canada, etc.
Case in point: Connie Willis' Doomsday Book part of which was set in
Oxford. I spent five and half years in Oxford getting a graduate degree
so I know something about the academic setting. Willis' depiction of it
just didn't ring true. She had obviously been to Oxford and done a little
research to add some local color (sorry, that should be colour :) ) like
what kind of trees they have and so on. But she displayed next to no ear
for British speech rhythms and was not able to depict Oxford academic life
from the inside. I never made it past about page 40.
By way of contrast, Greg Benford did a much better job in Timescape because
he had spent a year in Cambridge and could describe that setting from the
inside based on his experience as a participant. I know he's been criticized
earlier on this list for his portrayal of working class character but at
least he did pretty well in writing what he knew or had personal experience
of. The moral of the story? I guess it would be the old dictum, Write what
you know--from the inside.
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