two countries, separated by a common language

I am currently reading the novel Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon. It’s about a woman whose boy has been abducted, and it’s mostly psychological rather than gritty and harrowing (but it is harrowing in its low-key way). The novel itself came out in 1981 but it was reissued by Persephone Books in 2010 in a gorgeous edition that will stay on my shelf long after I’ve finished the novel. (In fact, Little Boy Lost by Laski, that I mentioned here, is a reissue by Persephone Books. They obviously love the work they do.) Persephone Books is a UK establishment devoted to bringing back to life the works of neglected authors — mostly women — of the 20th Century.

So it is curious to read a story set in Boston in the late ’70s and come across the words “tyre” and “grey.” (Haven’t come across “colour” yet. UPDATE: I did come upon “colour” later in the book as well as “bum” where American English might have said “bottom” or “butt.”) I must have acquired a copy intended for the British market, but that’s all right.

My copy is also second hand. I found it through ABE Books, where I’ve spent literally hundreds of dollars over the years. It sat on a shelf at some used book store (I think on the campus of Yale University), evidently for years. Each time I open the book, I get the strong scent of mildew. Not really a pleasant smell, but an honest one.

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One Comment on “two countries, separated by a common language”

  1. pete29anderson Says:

    A surprisingly high proportion of books that I’ve bought at my local Half Price Books have turned out to be U.K. editions. Always a pleasant surprise. I wonder if HPB makes a concerted effort to source used books from there.


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