Thanksgiving Redux

26 11 2007

For the second year–but not in a row–my brother joined me in New York for the turkey days. At Harry’s Steak they stuck us in a back room like a vault made of wood, away from all the round, convivial tables with their centerpieces. The cherry finish framed frescoes of peasant revels: monks and villagers in wine cellars of massive barrels. As we sat down, half a family of Latinos—a father, two children, and his mother—was just getting up to leave. The old lady was being slow—inching along the bench to where she might heave herself up—and her grown son curt. He gave the jacket he was holding out to her a limp shake: bored matador and tired cow.

Beyond them, further steps descended to an alcove whose exposed brick had been painted white and shelved with magnums and bottles. There were candles lit on all the tables. No one came to sit there all evening. We were later attended by a rotating staff, none of whom were Latinos.

In the corner of our room was an attractive couple; much to my brother’s envy, the man, who spent the night expostulating to his date, ended slumped across the banquette, jacket open as if in illustration of the digestive ease afforded by his posture, but the blonde remained upright, chin in her hands, tasseled earrings swinging just below her clipped hair. I make his laissez aller sound a gross lapse of decorum, but in fact the hush and tastefulness of the surroundings—the panels of menu slate behind them awaiting the day’s chalked prices—lent everyone class: the little girls all decked with frills and teenage sons in college sweatshirts, the calculated outfits of girlfriends brought home for the holidays, Asian or Indian every one, who passed through, the Emperor’s or Maharajah’s children in parade review, on their way back from the unlimited dessert bar to still further rooms, pumpkin mousses dainty on saucers. Read the rest of this entry »

In Memoriam

14 11 2007

The ALTA Conference 2007 just ended Sunday, and I’m sad. I couldn’t possibly do it justice. Bits of a most memorable time will probably trickle their way into other posts.

A mouse has run, my story’s done. Just felt like letting you know.

L’année prochaine à Minneapolis!

I Jump Aboard…

3 11 2007

… translating Archaia Studios Press’ series The Killer by Jacamon (art!) and Matz (words!), with issue #5,

Archaia’s The Killer, Issue #5

released back to back two weeks ago with issue #6

Archaia’s The Killer, Issue #6: Part II of “The Debt”

to grateful exclamation. The start of this new arc, “The Debt”, is a good place for new readers to jump on. Reviews have been ecstatic, especially over the NY scenes in #6, though not a single critic has neglected to bewail Archaia’s lateness in delivering what seems their best-loved translated title. Nor am I privy to what editorial congestion held up timely publication–but it wasn’t this translator! Writer Matz provided Archaia with his own translations of his work, which they asked me to brush up. Working on this series has been a crash course in concise dialogue. The other two Archaia series I work on, Okko and The Secret History, the former with its flourishes of formal diction, and the latter with its historical freight, both allow more leeway in narration than the clipped tone of The Killer. The rule of thumb that English is 15% more concise than French does not apply to slang (and in my experience applies more to the formal French of nonfiction and newspapers than to the literary idiolects authors invent to express largely personal concepts). Read the rest of this entry »