On Australian vs American writing

Having read a fair amount of Australian and American fiction over the past month, there are a few meandering observations I’d like to make.

Australian writing, like Australian culture, tends to be not very intense. It’s very laidback and spare. As a result, there is often a lack of story and/or story structure, although there can be a certain amount of polish to the writing. There’s also, at times, a lack of deep feeling.

American writing, like Americans, is much more intense. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. As a result, you get some ripper stories with a lot of average prose (and a lot of incredibly polished prose, with ripper stories). There are more hits and phenomenons in American writing than there are in Australian writing (also because of the vast quantity of writers in comparison).

The best kind of writing for me is American intensity and Australian restraint, although neither of these have to be from American or Australian writers. For example, I much admire John Murray (Australian but MFA from Iowa). I have not read any Paul Yoon. Anne Carson is remarkable. I do like Julie Otsuka.

The ultimate writer is a European or an Asian one, although being limited by language, my knowledge of these is limited to the major successes that blink their way into the English canon.