Commenter Of The Day: International Man Of Scorn And Derision Edition

When we conceived Crash Week we knew we were opening the floodgates to heaping helpings of scorn and derision to bad drivers, which is fine with us. When we conceived the Atlas of Bad Driving we knew we were opening the floodgates of bad national stereotypes-which was somewhat less fine with us, because they're so rarely clever educational. Still, it can be done; one writer who did it beautifully was Trevanian, a pen name of Rod Whittaker, whose novel Shibumi is a masterpiece of both super-spy satire and contemporary life. His arrogant and mostly unlikeable hero, Nicholai Hel, is the ultimate egalitarian-he hates everyone equally-and drops two scornful remarks per page, usually along the lines of "The French driver's infantile recklessness often annoyed him, but not so much as did the typical Italian driver's use of the automobile as an extension of his penis, or the British driver's use of it as a substitute." Erudite! Well-traveled! And not very nice. Certainly not as useful or exacting as our Dhillaz, who broke sterotyping-slash-advice down into Italian metropolitan areas:

Traffic Lights.

In Milano they're instructions.

In Roma they're suggestions.

In Napoli they're decorations.



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