Monday, November 2, 2015

First Impressions - Irmão Lobo (Brother Wolf)

Wow. November already. How does that happen? I know I'm not the only one who thinks that sometimes time just whips by, but sometimes it seems to move at ludicrous speed. Anyway, I've made very little progress on my revisions thanks to a miserable virus that put me on the feeling-like-a-piece-of-crap list for a few days and I am just now coming out of it, luckily just in time for First Impressions. And for our first submission, we have something a little bit different. 
In addition to writing her own fiction, Lyn Miller-Lachmann translates children's books from Portuguese to English. She is currently applying for a grant to translate an upper MG book by Portuguese author and journalist, Carla Maia de Almeida. The book is Irmão Lobo or Brother Wolf, and while she's limited in how much she can change the original text, she can tweak it to appeal to both the grant committee and tween readers. She's looking for suggestions and is offering to answer any questions you might have about children's book translations and/or what it's like to work as a translator.
 To find out more about the book and its significance to Lynn, check out her blog (seriously, do go read this, because once you do, you're probably going to want to read the book. I know I do.), and don't forget to head over to see what Dianne and Krystalyn thought about this first page.

I once believed I was madly in love with Kalkitos. But that couldn’t be, because I was eight years old at the time and Kalkitos was the same age as Fossil, my much-older brother. He could have almost been my father, and something about it didn’t seem right. Actually, a lot of things didn’t seem right.
First of all, according to Blanche, I was the one born “out of time.” I began to believe this before I could put the feeling into words. I’m fifteen now and almost ready to start my own life, but I still don’t understand all the things that happened to me.
When I was eight years old, time was the microwave oven’s red numbers, always changing and blinking in the dark kitchen.
Time was Blanche running around like a crazed chicken, beginning at daybreak when she woke me and helped me get ready for school. She would glance at her cellphone and say, We don’t have time right now. We don’t have time. She’d keep running throughout breakfast, leaving crumbs of toast all over the floor like Hansel and Gretel. The crumbs never led us to a house of chocolate, and the next day they were sucked up by the vacuum cleaner.
Cold, rain, sunshine—those were the seasons of time. Jackets, boots, hats, gloves, scarves, sandals, t-shirts, shorts—all ways of dressing for the seasons. I understood. It was easy to figure out.
The same way, when Grizzly Bear sat on the sofa in front of the television and said between clenched teeth, “We are living in ungovernable times,” I knew whether this was good or bad by the way he changed the channel. Bored, zap. Annoyed, zap, zap. Enraged or worse, zap, zap, zap.
Now, I know. I wasn’t born out of time. I simply didn’t understand.
Because in the end, I went to school like the other kids, I wore sandals in summer and a hat when it turned bitter cold. I had a home, like all the kids. In this home lived Blanche, Grizzly Bear, Fossil, and Miss Kitty—my family. My parents and my older brother and sister. It wasn’t possible that they all lived in time and I lived outside of time. 
But there were things that didn’t seem right.

My thoughts: First paragraph: "He could have almost been my father, and something about it didn’t seem right." This phrasing seems awkward to me. I'd suggest cutting the word almost, or, maybe rearranging the words thus: He could almost have been my father, and something about that didn't seem right.
Second paragraph: "First of all, aAccording to Blanche, I was the one born “out of time.” I began to believe this before I could put the feeling into words. I’m fifteen now and almost ready to start my own life, but I still don’t understand all the things that happened to me."
After that, I think it reads pretty smoothly. I didn't understand who Blanche was until I read through to the end and guessed that the narrator has nicknames for her family. Fossil is her older brother. I wonder who the others are. I would assume Grizzly Bear is dad, but who's mom and who's older sister? And who is this Kalkitos she was so in love with?
Having read what Lyn had to say about this book I can see why Lynn would want to translate it. It sounds like the sort of book I'd like, and I sure hope she gets the grant. Readers, do you have any suggestions for Lynn, or questions about translating? 
A big thanks to Lyn for submitting this first page :)


  1. There's a lot of personality in the words and the way the writer tells the story. I did get that Blanche was mom and Miss Kitty her sister. Funny names.

  2. Thank you, Marcy and Alex! The nicknames struck me as a bit strange at the beginning, but that sort of nicknaming is common in stories from Portugal that I've read. I actually had to replace the father's nickname because the original had some problematic overtones when translated into English in the U.S.

  3. It's amazing the different amount of styles of writers!

  4. Definitely intriguing. And what family doesn't have nick-names.

  5. That's what I like about translating international literature, Francis. Writers in other countries have different styles, different literary traditions, and different ways of seeing the world. At the same time, as Elephant's Child points out with families and nicknames, we come to realize how much we have in common with people and families around the world.


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