May 22, 2011

A comparative note

Last night, Iva and I stopped for a beer in one of the unbelievably crowded pubs on Warsaw's Krakowskie Przedmiescie. It took us ages to get near the bar, gliding past a compact crowd of guys screaming and cheering in front of the TV and another good half an hour to catch the attention of the bartenders, because they were all very busy watching some fight.
Then I remembered that ever since I started dancing one of the things I kept hearing from most of my male friends was that ballroom dancing is really, really gay. I bet that the majority of the guys gathered in front of the TV yesterday was of the same opinion and yet they were the ones staring at two half-naked and sweaty men lying on top of each other. Frankly, I don't really care what these manly, rugged, two-fisted men have to say about dancing - guys who do dance know just how manly the rumba or the tango can be, but I still find it really funny.
Let's compare and contrast.
Supposedly, this is gay:

And this is manly:

Am I the only one who sees the incongruity?

May 8, 2011


No, not the voices in my head, I'll leave those for some other time.
Over the years - I think it's been six or seven years since my first translation - I have voiced quite a few characters, doing my best to make them sound as good as possible in Romanian. It hasn't always been easy or pleasant, but no matter how much I disliked the characters I was dealing with, in the end I was always satisfied because I had managed to give them a voice that was as close as it could possibly be to their original one.
Some other times it was pure bliss, like when I was translating Woody Allen or The Bourbon Kid or Sadler's Englishman in Paris (I can't help it, I have a soft spot for expats) or Frankie Blue in Tim Lott's White City Blue, a lovely story about growing up and growing apart and also my first translation. I voiced vampires, retired cops, young cops, teenagers, businessmen and their glitzy-glam secretaries, mentally disturbed parents who let their kid die, priests, nuns, rock stars, hairstylists, geeks, bartenders, lawyers - I have quite a gallery and I'm proud of each and every one of them.
And then there was another first. A tough one, a challenge comparable maybe only to Woody and in some ways even more difficult and puzzling.
Jack and his Ma live in a room. When he turns five, he discovers there is a world outside. It is with his voice that Emma Donoghue tells the superb yet terrifying story of Room, one of the best novels I've read recently and definitely very high on my list of favorite translations ever.