George Saunders writes about his recent trip to Britain in the Guardian. An excerpt:
The first thing I did in England was travel to a town called Hay, the site of a big literary festival. Hay is known as The Town Of Books, because it has approximately 14,000 used book shops. The cars are all shaped like books and all of their food is book-shaped and the women wear a special perfume that smells like old musty books and all of the dogs are named “Baudelaire”.
One of the principles of science is that one can, by the careful study of a small data set, form generalised conclusions about a larger population. Based on my observation of the British at Hay, I concluded that the British: 1) are all from London, 2) are extremely literate, and 3) are almost always drunk. It was hard to find a Briton at Hay who was not from London and was not either reading or drunk, or both – ie, reading while drunk. Also, the British in Hay are extremely smart. Based on the quality of my conversations with the British at the Hay Festival, I was forced to conclude that the British are even more intelligent, literary and articulate than us Americans! I know my American readers will find this hard to believe, if they have even made it this far, due to all my big words I have been using. However, my fellow Americans, do not feel bad about our relative stupidity; I have concluded that the British are more intelligent, literary and articulate than us simply because they spend more time reading and studying and reflecting on the world than we do. No doubt if we Americans spent as much time reading, studying and thoughtfully reflecting as the British, we would be every bit as intelligent, literary and articulate as them. But we have better things to do, such as getting more money, and calling in our votes for American’s Sexiest Food-Obsessed Midgets, and keeping the world safe from democracy. Or, should I say, safe for democracy. Whatever. What am I, some kind of language scientist or wordologist or whatnot?
Seriously, I don’t know why you’re not over there reading the rest of it yet. Git!