I like to read while I'm eating, and this morning over breakfast I made a start on a book I bought to go on holiday with a few weeks back: Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver. I've never heard of Tim Weaver before - which probably explains why I've now typed Time instead of Tim twice - and thirteen pages in, I'm in some confusion.
For the first four pages I was completely convinced I was reading a female protagonist (it's written in first person). Even when the narrator phones home and speaks to a partner who is stated to be female, I just thought, "oh right, gay then". Then on the fifth page, someone - apparently an old friend - addresses our hero as "David", which - well, I wasn't expecting that at all. I've re-read the first four pages and I can't put a finger on why I totally took it for granted this was a woman. I suppose the most likely is that I hadn't noticed the author's name and assumed they were female, but I don't know. Something just feels a bit odd.
And there's another thing that's odd - the characters are speaking and thinking in American English, but are said to be English:
When our protagonist arrives at his/her destination and parks the car, this happens: "Popping the trunk, I grabbed my overnight bag and headed across the lot."
At this point I thought, "God, sometimes American books are just too much like hard work, specially early in the morning."
The protagonist's friend describes a period of time spent "trying to catch a break, waiting tables ... things got a little crazy", which (to me at least) is three more markedly American phrases.
And then on page 9, the protagonist and the old friend start reminiscing, slightly unconvincingly, about growing up in a village in England - we are invited to infer that it's in Devon.
Finally, the old friend announces "I have to use the can".
This book is hard work! Are these people British or American? The old friend has been in the States for five years and is a performer, so presumably chose to adapt fast to local usage. But our hero has only been there for six months and is a journalist for a British paper so it doesn't seem likely he'd be rushing to pick up American usage.
I deliberately haven't done any research yet, but at this point I'm puzzled. Have I got an American author here whose editor doesn't understand that English usage is different? Have I got a British author whose American publisher has insisted on changing things to words more familiar to American readers? Or what?
I suppose this has to rank as one of the more pointless posts of all time, but this book has me intrigued!