Miss Kakutani is seemingly underwhelmed by Vernon God Little, criticizing its lack of genuineness and its deep reliance on scatology. Dispensing with the latter complaint (rapping an Australian for scatology is a bit like attacking a Frenchman for hauteur; easy enough to do, but still somewhat unfair. It is, after all, the national character.) we’d have to agree with the former: It’s hard enough for an American not hailing from that region to capture the ambiance of Texas (yeah, we can’t believe we just typed those words either); the idea that some Aussie who spent time in what we can only imagine he spells as “Mesko” might do it always seemed unlikely. The rapturous reception with which the book was met in England aroused our suspicions early on: The English are notoriously fuzzy-headed when it comes to evaluations of American authenticity (one need simply look at the veneration in which the bowel-evacuatingly unfunny Ruby Wax is held in that green and pleasant land for confirmation).
I agree that the dialect and setting are no more Texan than the New York City version of Texas barbecue.
Still, after I slogged through the first chapter, got into the mood of it, and tried to forget that it was ostensibly set in the Lone Star State, I enjoyed the novel anyway.