marcel barang

Taking time out

In English on 29/08/2009 at 8:22 pm


 nakedead4reigns2The deciphering of Book II of Four Reigns came to an end on the same day I finished reading The Naked and the Dead. Both involving too long hours have been bad for my health: chasing or pushing back sleep until the wee hours, waking up for brunch or else before dawn depending on the state of nerves or is it brain cells has upset the apple cart of my daily life – and made me fail to attend a social function friendship had compelled me to promise to suffer. Neither have I found the sharpness of mind needed to write the third installment of ‘On literary translation from the Thai’. That’ll come in due time, though.

So I decided it was urgent to R&R before starting on the shaping-up of that Book II, a two to three weeks’ ride starting, perhaps, on Monday.

Yesterday Friday, after my usual pilgrimage to the website side of the office across the river, I went to Dance dance dance in and out of reality in the company of Haruki Murakami.

Not a great book – too much of a crowd pleaser, too many flat or repetitive sentences (whose fault is it? The author’s or the translator’s? Is it true the English version was condensed?), too full of improbabilities and loose ends, and at times too predictable: quite obviously that too-good-to-be-true golden movie star will turn out to be the (serial) killer – but it was a pleasant light read nonetheless because of its dream-like quality that fitted my drowsiness and the day’s low clouds. After a slow beginning thick with American cultural pollution – junk food, junk muzak and literary trendy gods – I was disconcerted when a few Japanese names cropped up: the novel does take place in Japan after all, ah so deska. The Sheep Man, I realised with a snigger, must have had Thai ancestors because whenhespeaksallhiswordsarestrunglikethis. Readers who find this painful to decipher will know what reading Thai feels like.

Today, to refresh the mind under dull skies after household chores to keep in shape, I reshaped the forty-plus pages presenting the e-books of my would-be website – at least this much looks good now. I’ve told all concerned that the site must imperatively be running before I saunter over to France in mid-October: the prestige of Thai literature is at stake! Khrap! Khrap! ‘Yes’, in the vernacular, meaning either ‘It will’ or ‘I hear you, fool’.

Tomorrow, I’ll watch TV: a jacquerie is underway, the press tells us; untold numbers of malcontents will swoop on the royal heart of Bangkok and paint the town red, yet again. How exciting, he yawned. As the well-known Chinese curse has it, may you live in interesting times!


PS: As soon as I post this, I learn that the Red Shirts have postponed their Sunday barbecue to Sat 5 September … or later, if the government keeps imposing internal security laws. That’s not fair, right? So I guess I’ll have time to rally my thoughts around the problems of literary translation from the Thai. Talk of a silver-red lining…


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