For one, no one is better than Camilleri at saying things funny rather than just saying funny things. That is, Camilleri won’t just put a funny line in a character’s mouth, but his entire syntax, his way of building a sentence, is a delicious wink to the reader that something is up. One smiles well before one gets to the punch line.
But mainly I like the book because when Montalbano bursts into the pathologist Pasquano’s office and finds the doctor out and a box of cream-filled pastries left behind, “Having finished the first cannolo, he took another.”
That’s cannolo, singular, not cannoli, plural, and the translation gets it right. I seethe when a waiter or waitress at an Italian restaurant offers me bruSHetta, and when some fast-food place urges me to “Have a panini!” I curse the saints; panini, like cannoli, is plural.
So, thanks to Camilleri’s ever-excellent translator, Stephen Sartarelli, for respecting the rules of good grammar and for keeping my blood pressure down.
© Peter Rozovsky 2011