George Saunders goes to England

Not that he learns anything from the experience…

The traveller must, of course, always be cautious of the overly broad generalisation. But I am an American, and a paucity of data does not stop me from making sweeping, vague, conceptual statements and, if necessary, following these statements up with troops.

And then there’s this:

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.

The sad thing is: there’s probably some British reader looking over this essay who thinks, “oho! This is what them poor Americans are like,” or something. Actually, that just makes it even funnier.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Athens, GA. His work has been published in RogerEbert.com, Bookslut, The Comics Journal, Salon, The Baseball Chronicle, Jackson Free Press, and Valley Voices: A Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter (@walter_biggins), and check out his bimonthly newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/Walter_Biggins).
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