There are those who would argue that a translator should avoid reading the text or author he or she is translating in the target language, to avoid contamination by exposure. I have to confess that I showed no such restraint when my copy of Sergio Chejfec’s My Two Worlds – the first of his novels to be published in English – arrived in my mailbox: I ravenously tore open the package and read the first twenty pages while standing in the doorway, finishing the rest in one sitting, as suits the compact volume. As a fellow translator of Chejfec’s work, I was not only drawn in by the narrative, but was also curious about Margaret B. Carson’s approach to the meandering yet precise reflections that define his style. Beyond the familiar word or turn of phrase that would offer the comfort of continuity (his) or solidarity (mine, with her), I wanted to get to know this other Chejfec, who emerged from the pages of the novel like one of the parallel realities he explores within it, and I’m glad that I did. Not only does he show his dexterity at weaving together observations that seem connected only by chance, My Two Worlds reveals something often overlooked in the discussion of his work: as it turns out, he has quite the sense of humor.
The problem with the internet is that one can read an online article for only so long. After even just a few lines (in fact, right about now), you start getting restless and feel the urge to check out whether Luis Scott-Vargas has uploaded another Magic drafting video at ChannelFireball.com. …Or is that only me? It is? Please, kindly don’t mock me overmuch, as I’m sure you have your own embarrassing vices. (Feel free to post what they are in the comments!)
This post began as a list of my favorite books new books circa 2009. I wrote a list, but then I found myself wanting to say more about each book, because you probably don’t know me, and who am I, anyway? And what good would my little list do you? You rightly want words of praise, and more words—descriptive words—as well as evidence that these books really are worth your while. (And that’s assuming you’re even still reading this, and haven’t gone and checked out LSV’s latest draft—said draft is the reason why I didn’t post this last evening.)
Ah. Well, because I desire to please you, and want to convince you to actually read these books, I’m splitting what had become one very, very long post into multiple posts. This will please you, I think, and will also please John—see? I’m posting! I will never catch up with Shya, but I am posting!
So starting today, I’ll list my four favorite books of 2009, one per day. And after that, I’ll devote a post to the year’s other new books that I enjoyed. And then, starting next week, I’ll post ad nauseam about the cinema (which I think we all know is what we really want to talk about, anyway).