22 November 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

I do have some serious things to say about ALTA 2011, which took place in Kansas City last week, but I’m trying to power through a few big things here before the Thanksgiving vacation, so I’m probably going to reserve those legit posts for next week. Instead, let’s talk about riding a mechanical bull.

Kansas City is a fun place that is filled with bar-be-que, concealed weapons, and mechanical bulls. To celebrate this fine heritage, I thought it would be fun if a big group of translators went down to PBR Big Sky (the PBR stands for “Professional Bull Riding,” FYI) to ride a mechanical bull and shoot bullets into the sky try on cowboy hats.

To make this more interesting, I thought this could be the first of the “Feats of Translators” series here at Open Letter Books. See, rather than spending all this time reading and evaluating books, I think we should institute a new editorial policy whereby certain books are published based on which translators win particular contests. Like, you know, a scavenger hunt, or a Words With Friends tournament, or bull riding . . .

Based on the enticing possibility of having a book published by Open Letter, about 100 9 of us went to PBR and rode that bull. Actually, all of us rode the bull except for Scott Esposito, who decided that he wasn’t “manly” enough. (Which is maybe why he overcompensates at the beginning of this video by yelling “F*&^ you, Chad Post!” Some people . . . )

There are videos of all the riders, but I thought I’d just post mine since I decided that I won. (Our “timekeeping” sort of malfunctioned, so I win by default of having gone first. Publisher’s rules!)

Enjoy. And yes, “Wild Thing.”

15 November 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

I’m about to head off to this year’s American Literary Translators Association conference in Kansas City, MO, where hopefully I’ll be able to post a few updates and let you in on the awesome fun that is ALTA. (And remember, next year it’s in Rochester from October 3-6. and I expect to see all of you here. It will be worth your while—I promise.)

Just in case I don’t have time to post (which is quite possible, since I talk to much and stay up too late), over the rest of the week I’m going to rerun our well-regarded “Making the Translator Visible” series, which came out of ALTA Pasadena.

These pieces are also contained in my ebook, “The Three Percent Problem: Rants and Responses on Publishing, Translation, and the Future of Reading,” which can be purchased for $2.99 at Amazon, B&N, and the iBookstore. (And as a reminder, all the proceeds from the sales of this book go directly to supporting translators.)

Anyway, hopefully I’ll see some of you in Kansas City. And if not, I’ll let you know about all the fun and games over the next couple weeks.

16 November 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

So, I’m back from Southern California, all post-ALTA inspired about translation, the state of translation, the amazing manuscripts people are working on, etc. But I’m way, way too jetlagged and exhausted to actually write any real posts today . . .

So, in a blogging version of an “under construction” full-motion jpg, I thought I’d just give a brief preview of what we have planned for this week along with a few notes about my undying love of ALTA . . .

I guess for the benefit of anyone who isn’t already jacked into the translation community, it might be worthwhile explaining a bit about what ALTA is. Google will bring you to all sorts of orgs—Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association, American Land Title Association, etc.—this is actually the American Literary Translators Association, which is housed at the University of Texas-Dallas and is the only professional organization in America for literary translators.

There are a number of components to ALTA—a listserv for members, Translation Review, Annotated Books Received, so on and on—but the real cornerstone of the organization (for the time being, more on that later this week in one of my over-long, over-written posts) is the annual conference. Held throughout the country (next year it’s in Philly, and then New Orleans Kansas City Banff Nome, Alaska somewhere) in mid-October, it’s an amazing chance for literary translators of all languages and experience levels to come together to talk shop, share experiences, hook up with editors, create support networks, and enjoy the totally ALTA-coolness that comes from bringing together a few hundred over educated, linguistically obsessed, fun people.

I’m going to catch flack from someone(s) for any number of statements that are about to follow, but yeah, well, whatever. First off, ALTA is the best, bar none, conference that I attend on an annual basis. Kicks MLA’s collective academic ass. Makes BEA look boring. Not even Frankfurt is as warm, human, and inviting. This may be a result of my nerdy nature, but damn, hanging out with literary translators is so much fun. Where else can you learn about crazy Chinese signs? (The title of this post can be found outside a baggage claim at a Chinese airport.) And I’ve said this before in more subtle terms, but, well, the women who go into literary translation are awesome. And, as I always love to point out, they also tend to be short like me, which is totally brilliant.

Any one who’s interested in literary translation should definitely “join ALTA.“http://www.utdallas.edu/alta/meminfo.html It’s only $20 for students (and $80 for us old people), and definitely worth it. But I’ll write more about that and the future of ALTA later this week . . .

Speaking of which: in addition to a series of posts about ALTA—the panels, the people, the speeches, the fun—this week we’ll also kick off the “Making the Translator Visible” project. This is something Megan McDowell and I came up with at ALTA and consists of pictures of various translators along with info about their favorite word, translation, and book that needs to be in English. It was a lot of fun putting this together, and I’m excited to start posting about all of the cool translators . . . Also have a few reviews later this week, some stuff about the new issue of Two Lines, some more news about our retranslation of Ilf & Petrov’s The Golden Calf, info about the 2010 Best Translated Book Award (including dates for all the various announcements), previews of December translations and more more more.

....
Fear: A Novel of World War I
Fear: A Novel of World War I by Gabriel Chevallier
Reviewed by Paul Doyle

One hundred years have passed since the start of World War I and it is difficult to believe that there are still novels, considered classics in their own countries, that have never been published in English. Perhaps it was the. . .

Read More >

Little Grey Lies
Little Grey Lies by Hédi Kaddour
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

In the London of Hédi Kaddour’s Little Grey Lies, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan, peace has settled, but the tensions, fears, and anger of the Great War remain, even if tucked away behind stories and lies. Directly ahead, as those. . .

Read More >

Autobiography of a Corpse
Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
Reviewed by Simon Collinson

One of the greatest services—or disservices, depending on your viewpoint—Bertrand Russell ever performed for popular philosophy was humanizing its biggest thinkers in his History. No longer were they Platonic ideals, the clean-shaven exemplars of the kind of homely truisms that. . .

Read More >

A Musical Hell
A Musical Hell by Alejandra Pizarnik
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The best way to review Alejandra Pizarnik’s slim collection, A Musical Hell, published by New Directions as part of their Poetry Pamphlet series, is to begin by stating that it is poetry with a capital P: serious, dense, and, some. . .

Read More >

Astragal
Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Upon completing Albertine Sarrazin’s Astragal I was left to wonder why it ever fell from print. Aside from the location, Astragal could pass as the great American novel. Its edginess and rawness capture the angst and desires we all had. . .

Read More >

Live Bait
Live Bait by Fabio Genovesi
Reviewed by Megan Berkobien

When my eyes first crossed the back cover of Fabio Genovesi’s novel Live Bait, I was caught by a blurb nestled between accolades, a few words from a reviewer for La Repubblica stating that the novel was, however magically, “[b]eyond. . .

Read More >

The Skin
The Skin by Curzio Malaparte
Reviewed by Peter Biello

“I preferred the war to the plague,” writes Curzio Malaparte in his 1949 novel, The Skin. He speaks of World War II and the destruction it has wrought on Italy, the city of Naples in particular. But the plague he. . .

Read More >