Thursday, August 05, 2004


While up in Chicago last week, I whiled away odd moments by rereading the series of Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging; On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God (known in the U.K. as It's OK, I'm Wearing Really Big Knickers!); Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas and Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants (there's a new one out, Away Laughing on a Fast Camel (And That's When It Fell Off in My Hand in the U.K.), but I haven't read it yet). They really are funny (Angus less so than the others); though written for "teenagers," they're funnier than just about any "comic novel" for adults published in the past few years that I've read. What makes them special is not so much the events in them, though those are amusing enough. It's primarily Georgia's (the protagonist and narrator) complete and oblivious self-centeredness on the one hand, and her narrative voice on the other. In Kristin Thompson's book on P. G. Wodehouse, Wooster Proposes, Jeeves Disposes she discusses how Bertie Wooster's narration reflects his ill-informed fascination with language, and the same is true of Georgia's narration. A sample, from the "glossary" in the U.S. edition of On the Bright Side...:

"billio - From the Australian outback. A billycan was something Aborigines boiled their goodies up in, or whatever it is they eat. Anyway, billio means boiling things up. Therefore, 'my cheeks ached like billio' means--er--very achy. I don't know why we say it. It's a mystery, like many things. But that's the beauty of life."

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