Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Has Gianrico Carofiglio ever been a copy editor?

"At first he'd corrected everything: syntax, grammar, spelling, even punctuation. Then he realised he couldn't go on like that. The men were hurt, he'd spend hours on end trying to correct texts that were usually impossible to correct, and none of his superiors, in the Prosecutor's Department or anywhere else, ever noticed the difference. So, after a while, he adapted. He would still change a few things here and there, just to show them that he read everything, but. mostly, he adapted.

"Anyway, he'd always been very good at adapting."
-- Gianrico Carofiglio, The Past is a Foreign Country
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Gianrico Carofiglio will be part of my panel "A QUESTION OF DEATH: HOW IMPORTANT IS WHODUNIT?"  on Thursday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m.-11 a.m., at Bouchercon 2011.

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20 Comments:

Anonymous Simona said...

How exciting! Carofiglio is one person I'd like to meet one day. The last time I was in Italy, I bought a collection of stories called Non esiste saggezza: I love it. I wonder why novels get translated but stories don't (I am thinking also about Camilleri's stories with Montalbano).

August 09, 2011  
Blogger Fred said...

Why don't stories get translated?

From what I was told, it's a matter of profit. Novels sell, but collection of short stories don't do nearly as well unless the writer has a large audience.

August 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Simona, I was going to suggest the same explanation that Fred did. I'm impressed that Carofiglio was able to have a collection of short stories published in the first place in any language. Thst a collection of his stories appeared is an indication that he is widely read, I'd say.

August 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, in crime fiction, at least, I think more short stories, novellas, and short-story collections have been published as e-books than was the case before -- one benefit of e-books.

August 09, 2011  
Anonymous solo said...

Has Gianrico Carofiglio ever been a copy editor?

I don't know if Carofiglio has ever had the great good fortune to be a copy editor, but based on reading the second chapter of his book, I'm betting poker is a foreign country to him.

The fat man cut the cards and said, 'Five card stud.' He said it in the same tone of voice he'd used all evening. What he thought of as a professional tone. A good way to recognize an easy mark at a poker table is to see if they use a professional tone.

He dealt the first card face down and the second one face up. A professional gesture, as if to prove my point.


Who is Carofiglio kidding? There's no other way to start a game of five card stud. Playing the first card face down and second one face up wouldn't tell you jackshit about anybody.

A small point, of course. But small points matter. Writers are like illusionists trying to persuade you of the truth of something that isn't actually true. They want you to see only the story and the characters but when they get small details wrong what you really get is a peek behind the scenes at the humble scribe sweating away at the laptop trying to weave some magic and not doing a very good job of it.

The basic set-up of The Past is a Foreign Country (naive student led astray by charismatic older character) sounds very much like a slightly more extreme version of one of the great Italian movies of the 60s, il sorpasso (The Easy Life), a road movie, before there were road movies. The film was a significant influence on Easy Rider later on in the sixties.

If you haven't already seen it, Peter, this YouTube clip will give you a slight flavour of the thing, with JL Trintignant as the shy student and Vittorio Gassman as the Miles Gloriosus.

August 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's a worthwhile point to make. Thanks.

I think I'll get a better idea of where this book fits into Carofiglio's oeuvre once I've read his series novels. And yes, I may question him about poker on our Bouchercon panel.

August 09, 2011  
Anonymous solo said...

I may question him about poker on our Bouchercon panel

I think he might have more to say about Il Sorpasso than he would about poker. The paralells between the film and his book are striking and have already been noted by Italian critics.

August 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'll take a look at the clip. That could well lead to a panel question.

I wondered, too, after I posted my reply to you whether the problem you noted may have been the result of translation -- whether "five-card stud" is a rendering of a game whose Italian name might be unfamiliar to readers of English.

August 09, 2011  
Anonymous solo said...

I wondered, too, after I posted my reply to you whether the problem you noted may have been the result of translation -- whether "five-card stud" is a rendering of a game whose Italian name might be unfamiliar to readers of English

Not a chance. Writers make stuff up. Sometimes they do it well, sometimes badly. Sensible writers don't care too much one way or the other. They know that readers, for the most part, are a forgiving bunch.

August 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, I'll check the Italian edition before I drag Carofiglio up on charges.

August 09, 2011  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, I owe you an apology. You were right about the English translation. I couldn't find the scene in Italian, but I got it in German.

In that translation they talk about a Telesina-Pokerspiel.

One internet site said:

Telesina is a poker game that is originally from Italy. According to some sources the game is from a city called San Remo, however this is not confirmed information. Still today majority of the players of this fun poker game are from Italy. Now thanks to online poker players from other countries are also able to play this game both for free and for real money.

One of the most interesting things about telesina is that instead of 52 card deck the game is played with a smaller, 32 card deck. Thus when played with one deck (which is usually the case) the maximum amount of players who can play it at the same time is 6. In other poker game such as texas holdem it is common to see up to 10 players playing in the same table.

August 09, 2011  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, I owe you an apology. You were right about the English translation. The game is Telesina, a Italian variant of stud poker.

Blogger seems to be hungry again, judging by the way it dealt with my last comment

August 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

We've uncovered some sloppy work by the translator, then.

You comments occasionally get sent to my spam box. I'll have a look.

August 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yep, that's what happened. I've put up your original post as part of the historical record.

August 09, 2011  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

No doubt that ebooks have already brought about some major changes in publishing.

I suspect that there are more coming, and some will be completely unexpected.

August 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No doubt you're right. I was just trying, against my nature, to find something good about e-books. They have zero advantage as far as the experience of reading. Reading a paper book is easier and more convenient than reading a book electronically, and it always will be.

The advantages to date for crime-fiction readers are convenience of acquisition; ease of publishing; and greater availability of short fiction.

August 10, 2011  
Blogger Fred said...

Another advantage to ebooks might be the increased availability of out-of-print books--maybe.

August 14, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Or, to put it in language more congenial to pushers of technology and their boosters in the mainstream media, books will never need to go out of print.

This might be a qualified blessing. I've read on e-readers some classics whose copyright has expired, and the "typesetting" is often sloppy -- worse than comparable versions you'd find on Project Gutenberg. People who prepare these books for e-readers have not answered all the necessary formatting questions.

August 14, 2011  
Anonymous Howard Curtis said...

Sorry I've only just seen this thread. As translator of The Past is a Foreign Country, I'd like to comment on the above remarks about my "sloppy work" on the poker aspects of the book. Not being a poker player myself, I had to do some research when translating these sections, and "five card stud" did seem to be the most accurate translation of what was being played at that point. The poker references were checked and approved by someone at the publishing house who knew about poker, and the original UK edition carried a preliminary note explaining that this was an Italian version of the game, employing a 32-card deck. I haven't seen the US edition, so I don't know if this note was reproduced.

September 27, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the note. I'd failed to consieer that the sloppy work, if any, may have been the publisher's. I apologize for my rashness.

The U.S. edition includes a note about "The version of poker described in The Past Is a Foreigh Country," but that note neither includes neither the game's Italian name nor the term five-card stud. I can understand that a poker-playing reader might be confused or annoyed.

I've occasionally written here about translators' challenges. Rather than an explanatory note, would you have considered working either the game's Italian name or a brief explantion into the body of the text, then letting context take care of the rest? Mike Mitchell would include brief parenthetical explanations to get around dialect shifts in Friedricxh Glauer's German, so the device need not be obtrusive.

September 27, 2011  

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