There is in American writing a love of the concrete term for the fabric of the real, modern world. An American writer is likelier than a British one to use the rich technical vocabulary of the makers and doers, the builders, garment-makers, farmers and engineers, to achieve a level of description which is concise, exact and often lyrical, even as it sends readers to the dictionary or, more likely, the internet, to find out what it means.
Was interested in what he says about Cormac McCarthy's use of vocabulary, and says it took him some time to work out what he meant:
I am quite smug though that Meek needed a dictionary to find out what terrazzo means when it is such an everyday word in Malaysia English (though perhaps less so these days as our tastes in flooring become more sophisticated) .
... when he described the American desert thus in No Country For Old Men: "The raw rock mountains shadowed in the late sun and to the east the shimmering abscissa of the desert plains under a sky where raincurtains hung dark as soot all along the quadrant." Abscissa is, I now know, a mathematical term for the distance to a point along the x-axis of a graph. The desert plain is the remorselessly straight horizontal reference for everything - mountains, men, clouds - that strives to rise above it.
This is McCarthy letting you know, though you knew already, that he, and the character bestriding this arena, Llewelyn Moss, see a different desert from the one an outsider would see, a desert as divisible into a multitude of nameable qualities as a busy city street is to an urbanite. There's a rockslide on the edge of the "bajada"; an antelope runs onto the "barrial"; the "datilla" casts its shadow; Moss climbs a long "rincon", and there's a long "talus" of lava scree.
McCarthy uses the same technique in The Road, except that in this novel, it is noticeably the father-character's power over the bits and pieces that make up everyday life which is expressed by the use of obscure, specialist words. "He pulled the bolt," McCarthy writes, when the father is carrying out a life-preserving bit of repair work on a shopping trolley, "and bored out the collet with a hand drill and resleeved it with a section of pipe he'd cut to length with a hacksaw". It takes a decent dictionary about 25 words to explain even simply what a collet is; the implication in The Road is that, if you can't put a name to a collet, you aren't going to survive the post-apocalypse.
(We debated using the full rich vocabulary of English here a while ago ...)