The Shadow of the Wind | Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Do not ask me how I came across this book; all I remember is reading the description and thinking how intriguing it sounded. Which, once you read the book (or this little write-up), the mysterious origins of its way into my life seems entirely fitting.

The 2001 novel by Spanish author, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, is exquisitely translated by Lucia Graves. The prose is fluid and elegant without being flashy, and I was sucked into the story right away.

The novel moves around in time and space but is mostly rooted in Barcelona over the first half of the Twentieth Century. A young boy, Daniel, is taken by his father to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

[T]his place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands.

Daniel is allowed to choose one book of his own. He finds The Shadow of the Wind written by Julián Carax. When he inquires about the author himself, Daniel soon becomes dragged into a mystery that finds its origins thirty years earlier in the 1910s. Also, while he is poking around in Barcelona’s community to find more answers, the dastardly Laín Coubert, “the man without a face,” is desperately after Daniel’s copy which he has full intention of destroying which he has done to all of Carax’s previous copies.

Like a good cover blurb, this book is filled with death, murder, mystery, corruption, yada yada. Because Zafón was masterfull at wrapping a good story together, I couldn’t help but think back to my own book that I have been working on FOREVER. The Shadow of the Wind winds itself around different characters, different decades, and at times, different perspectives. In an expertly manner, the author divulges information or holds it close to his chest to not reveal too much right away. I recommend this to everyone but especially people who are working on their own project that might becoming a massive, out-of-hand endeavor.

The characteristic that stuck out to me the most was the plotting. The prose was beautiful and Zafón’s plotting really made this book a delight. What really stood prominent was when to hold back information and when to release it. This led to a natural feeling of “detective” on the part of the reader. We have Daniel who is also looking for clues and is acting as our surrogate.

Finally! This is the first book for The [International] Reading List.

Acid Free Roundup

I’ve been pulled in a few too many directions as of late but I thought I would lay out what’s been happening recently and some of my to-do’s.

  1. New poem up at Translations of Dead German Poets.
  2. NO MORE BOOK REVIEWS! I swear this time. They take up too much of my free brain space. No more (well, at least not in the foreseeable future). A published book review really takes a lot of time. You have an initial draft, edits/back and forth with an editor, and also the time it took to read the book. My desire for my own writing and book choices certainly outranks that of publishing a measly review. Only books I have chosen for myself so be prepared for more write-ups for fiction coming soon
  3. Playing catch up on my favorite blogs. I’ve been a bit quiet lately. I’m not a big fan of the way that WordPress organizes the blogs I follow; plus I am sometimes negligent in pressing the ‘Follow’ button. I’ve always used Google Reader but now with its demise, I must find something new to organize everything. Suggestions greatly appreciated.
  4. Things I’m happy with: Writing! Yes, I’ve finally gotten some more words down on the page for a book I’m writing. This plot is a bit twisty, so may I share my new favorite virtual corkboard that helps me stay organized and it’s free? Definitely recommended.
  5. Even with all of this mind-stretching-in-different-directions, I still try to put up a few interesting writerly, bookish things on the ole Twitter feed even if I can’t get to the blog.

Translating Dead German Poets

Translations of Dead German Poets.So what happens when you’ve been super busy, not responding to emails, getting back to people or being a suitable human? Procrastinate, of course. I’ve decided to collect my three previous translations I’ve posted to this blog and create a new project. I have already put up the originally three and some new ones are coming soon.

Some people squish stress balls in their hands, others clean their whole home. I choose to translate poems by dead and forgotten (at least, forgotten in the US) German-language poets to refocus and forget about everyday stresses. So without further ado…


a poem by August von Platen-Hallermünde

August_von_Platen_by_Moritz_RugendasIt has been almost a year since I posted a translation. This is a poem by August von Platen-Hallermünde, an early 19th Century German writer. I dare say that I know very little about him but apparently his slim volumes of poetry caught the eye of even greats like Goethe. I don’t know if he is available in English (or in any other language besides the original German) but I hope you enjoy.
Specks of colors dust the wings
of summer butterflies.

They are fleeting and ephemeral,
Like the gifts that I bring,
Like the wreaths that I weave,
Like the songs that I sing.

Swiftly hovering above all,
Your time is scarce,
Like foam on a swaying wave,
Like a breath on a bare blade.

I do not desire immortality,
Death is the fate of all things,
My tones are as fragile
As the glass which I ring.

Farbenstäubchen auf der Schwinge
Sommerlicher Schmetterlinge.

Flüchtig sind sie, sind vergänglich,
Wie die Gaben, die ich bringe,
Wie die Kränze, die ich flechte,
Wie die Lieder, die ich singe.

Schnell vorüber schweben alle,
Ihre Dauer ist geringe,
Wie ein Schaum auf schwanker Welle,
Wie ein Hauch auf blanker Klinge.

Nicht Unsterblichkeit verlang ich,
Sterben ist das Los der Dinge.
Meine Töne sind zerbrechlich
Wie das Glas, an das ich klinge.

The [International] Reading List

MH900400620If you just take a peek at the top of the blog, you’ll see that I added a new page: The [International] Reading ListIn response to a recent post, I’ve decided to publicly collect my the  list of international books-to-read. The purpose is to get some reader recs as well as shedding light on international books. Not enough foreign books are published in the US and I hope I can do my small part in bringing more attention to them.

Please take a look at the ever so small current list and if you have any recommendations, I encourage you to leave them in the comment section. I do not discriminate. Any genre is welcome whether it be “high literature,” mainstream fiction, children’s lit, sci-fi, etc. Contemporary or classic!

A New Year for Acid Free Pulp

Yes, I have been particularly scattered brain, lazy, anxious, procrastination-prone, etc. etc. Maybe not the best way to start off a new year? However, being on a pseudo-vacation for the next month, away from NYC, in a tropical environment, is an excuse, right?? I am not one to get into “New Year’s Resolutions,” but I do like the occasional stimulation, especially, when it comes to books and writing. So, for my much delayed post of the new year, I have created more of a list of things I hope that will help me focus and be a more productive and better writer.

  1. Read more literature from overseas. In the US, we have a huge publishing market, but, alas, only three percent of books published in the US are those in translation. We are quite anemic when it comes to foreign literature. If you have an suggestions, both contemporary & classic, please feel free to leave a rec in the comment section.
  2. Don’t spread yourself too thin. I have the unfortunate tendency of taking on too many projects. This can result in not finishing something one has started. Recently, I was given the advice of setting up a superfluous deadline and if I am no longer interested in the project, drop it and move on to something I am interested in and passionate about. Hopefully, this will help me focus and not waste my time.
  3. Let it be a fantastical year! Besides including foreign literature, I shall also try to read more fantasy, sci-fi, myth, fairy tale etc. I am working on a side project now that is very much in the genre realm with elements of the fantastic and sci-fi. A great blog that I look to for works of horror and fantasy is Multo (Ghost). There is always something good happening over there.
  4. Sayonara book reviewingWell, maybe not completely. Writing reviews professionally is really not an interest of mine. I do it more for the small amount of money it gives me to buy groceries. When you are a writer of no importance, you tend to take on projects you normally wouldn’t want to do for little to no money. Some people like book reviewing, but it’s just not for me. I’ll probably still pick up a book or two, but keep it to a minimum this year. It also can cut into my own work.
  5. Get this blog in to gear. For a chunk of last year, I was out of the country and traveling around. For the most part, I had no internet or reliable internet, so my posts count did drop severely. I hope I will be able to post more interesting things in the coming weeks. My write-ups have been a bit more scarce (whilst on vacationing I am always unmotivated to turn on a computer), but, hopefully, I can provide some more interesting topics to read and exciting books to share.

Well, here’s to a fantastic year at Acid Free Pulp. Enjoy!

a new translation of Solaris by Stanisław Lem

What good news!

A new translation of Stanisław Lem’s 1961 classic science fiction novel, Solaris, has come out. Although a favorite book of mine, English readers without the ability to read the original Polish or translated French had to suffer with what his website calls,

[C]hildren’s “broken telephone game”; initially the book was translated from Polish into French. Then the French text served as a basis for the English edition.¹

The novel is not yet available in book form but you can find it as an Audible audiobook or for a special ebook price of $1.99 at Amazon. If anyone has seen this translation anywhere else for sale, let me know so I can add some links.

¹ I don’t know what the actual term for this type of translation is but I love the idea of referring to it as telephone translation.

thoughts on my new translator

A few months ago, I was asked if I would write a story to be included in an Austrian anthology. I was very honored but I told the editor that I could only write a story in English; I can translate from German but not write the other way. I was told that this would not be a problem at all and a translator would be secured for me. I was excited but then after the initial blush of being asked to be a part of this lovely collection, my fears started to set in.

Some of you might remember my first round of literary translation (we had a joint project where we both translated each other. We had no choice in picking each other and we were strangers before meeting). Granted, I wrote more about my experience translating her story, but she surely drove me nuts all around. Although, I have let it roll off my back, I am still unhappy with the way my short story turned out.

I thought about it and then quickly asked if I could find my own translator. No problem! A young writer friend of mine in Germany has taken up the task. I didn’t know if he had ever translated before but I had read some of his poetry. I was more concerned with him being a great writer because I believe that in order to be a fantastic translator, one must also be a fantastic writer.

My story for the anthology is short–about 1,600 words–and my friend has about a month to translate it. I have already received the first page in German. He had only a few questions and one or two slight misunderstandings, but I am over-the-moon. It has been such a relief knowing my story is in the right hands. Having your work represented in an unoriginal state could make one feel as if a pale facsimile is being produced (which can happen) but I hope that the German translation can become his own. I am very excited to see the entire project once it is completed.

Argos Books at The Oracle Club

This weekend, I had the pleasure of catching Argos Books‘ celebration of their most recently released chapbooks. The lovely and talented editors held their little shindig at the The Oracle Club which deserves its own post all together. Four readers read from the new books and each had such engaging poems. Two of the chapbooks also were in collaboration with visual artists that offered stunning images to accompany the words. Argos always produces lovely books; besides the words and images, the books themselves are outstanding pieces of art. They are hand-sewn and whenever I pick one up, I just want to touch every inch of the cover and pages. The reading itself was brief which was perfect. The poets kept the audience engaged and each one of them brought a different aesthetic to the event.

Another aspect of Argos that I love is that they take a special interest in publishing works-in-translation. They have a side by side series that offers both the original text and the new translation. They are working hard to bring writers that haven’t been published before in English to a wider audience. The editors at Argos are especially interested in this because of their own personal translation endeavors (one of the lovely Argos ladies works on translating from Swedish!).

Hearing them introduce each poet just showed how passionate they are about their writers and why they chose to publish them. They have a real appreciation and regard for the texts and I hope this small presse can continue producing big things.

works in translation, AmazonCrossing

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always the first person on top of an internet trend or whatnot, but where have I been! Why did no one pull me out of my cave and show me AmazonCrossing. According to Publishers Weekly,

Amazon has established a second publishing imprint, launching, AmazonCrossing, which will do English-language translations of foreign-language books…Amazon said it will choose titles for AmazonCrossing the same way it does for AmazonEncore–using customer feedback and “other data from Amazon sites around the world to identify exceptional books deserving a wider, global audience.” In addition to selling the titles through its own channels, Amazon hopes to sell AmazonCrossing books in bookstores
AmazonCrossing has been around for two years and I’ve only now just stumbled across it. I like the concept. It is bringing international books to a broader American reading audience. It looks like the books are reasonably priced as both paperbacks and  $3.99-$7.99 ebooks. Just more of a distraction for me from work and writing. It looks like you can contact them directly to propose a submission,