Thursday, April 14, 2005

Editing kvelling & Phoebe Amelia Blair

I have just been line-editing the translation of a brilliant Dutch novel we're publishing in Spring 2006: The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer, translated by John Nieuwenhuizen (who also translated our equally brave and brilliant In the Shadow of the Ark). And I *love* doing this, going through a text and finding the places where the writer's meaning isn't communicating itself quite so perfectly as it could, where the clear stream of thought and emotion is eddying around a rock of a wrong word or a typographical error or a feeling that isn't shared by the reader -- and getting to help pick out the rock. It feels so good, like a kind of linguistic tikkun olam: helping to make the world (or at least the author's vision of it) whole. And it's going to be a marvelous, kick-ass, and hopefully HUGELY controversial book -- mothers get beaten! Jesus hangs out with the main character! God dies! And fundamentalists everywhere get exactly what they deserve! (Though they probably won't understand the book and will ironically try to ban it, a la The Giver. I can't wait.)

One point is distressing me, though: At one point Jesus says "Just good, or bloody good?" This is a book putatively intended for nine- to twelve-year-olds, who may not know the British locution "bloody" (our translator is Australian). Rachel and I have been brainstorming alternate words with no luck; "super" is too surfer, "really" too weak, we're reserving "damned" for later in the book . . . any suggestions?

Also this week I sent off the second-pass proofs of Lisa Yee's wonderful Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time (the companion to her likewise excellent Millicent Min, Girl Genius*), and while it does not feature atheism and trumpet-playing sparrows, it is SO GOOD and so surprising and satisfying. . . . I still laugh and get a lump in my throat every time I read it, and as this was probably my seventh (?) go-round with the text, that's how you know it's quality. It's coming out in October.

* And look for the After Words edition of Millicent Min with "extras" by Lisa Yee and Cheryl Klein, this summer at a bookstore near you.

< /shameless editorial book huckstering >


My friend Hilary and her husband Dave just had their first baby: Phoebe Amelia Blair, born April 13, 2005. None of you know Hilary and Dave, but please send a good wish into the ether for parents and child. Hurrah!


  1. How about inverting it, so that you have "Pretty good, or just plain [really] good?"

    Or, in a nod to Sarah M., "Like ice cream or better?"

  2. freakin' good?

  3. In honor of the defending World Champs, "wicked good."

  4. This reminds me of those dippy yogurt ads with the two ladies talking about how friggin' good their yogurt is.

  5. Well, exactly. But with Jesus.