Sunday, December 03, 2006

The difficulties of writing a sandwich

One of these days, I was going to write an essay comparing American and British fiction which will be called "How to Write an American Sandwich", because, whilst a character in an English novel will generally have "a sandwich" or if a particularly show off of a writer "a cheese sandwich" characters in an American novel will have something that lasts at least a paragraph, never mentions the sandwich, and will at some point mention "pastrami" and "rye". It seems a particular kink of our linguistic differences that English writers generally accept some things as being so obvious ("sandwiches" "doors" "Baronets" etc.) that they don't bother to illuminate them for the reader; whilst the American writer is aware, that without having a class system to help define his/her characters, he needs to give a little more information, and that inevitably includes a detailed description of what they eat. I was reading about American food for years before most of it made it into our supermarkets, and I could at last find what they were talking about. I even parodied/homaged this with a sandwich recipe of my own (yet to be made flesh), in a story, "Bat-She-Bop." So I can't say I was that surprised to read that McDonalds' is trying to patent making a sandwich. Charles Bukowski would be proud.

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