Sunday, December 12, 2010

Humor time

45. Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations by Simon Rich

This is a collection of short, humorous vignettes. I read it in the Finnish translation Kusiaistarha, and I think I need to read the original before I can really say how good a humorist Rich is: I often found myself translating phrases back into English to see, if the voice was more fitting in the other language. Still, the translator did a heck of a job, because most of the time the vocabulary used in it was simply hilarious. I especially enjoyed the very first story, Abraham's awkward soliloquy to Iisac after having tried to murder him, beginning with "Would you like to have some ice cream, Iisac?"

Also, the short exchanges about old-timey measuring units were fun.
- I'd like a suit.
- Great. How tall are you?
- Well... about one king length.
- Could you specify that?
- Not really.
- God damn it. 
- I also need gloves. My hand is... about one hand.
- Yeah I can tell.
(Apologies if this does not match the original text.)

The funny beginning soon turned to a mild disappointment, as some of the stories were just... blah. (Ooh, a little oblivious kid's point of view to the hockey players his slutty mom brings home... How predictable.)

Still, when the stories were not a rehash of an old theme they were fun.

There's one bone I have to pick with this book, though, and it has nothing to do with Rich or the translator. It's the publisher, Like. I have never in my life seen a published book that has its formatting so out of whack. I don't know what the hell happened, because Like books are usually good-quality stuff, although they come from a small publishing house.

I mean, look at this (red marks mine). And this is the least that happens in every single story where there is dialog: the first line is always fine, but then the rest are indented. It looks like someone could not turn off Word's auto-formatting, and just thought, Screw this. And it went through the publishing machine!

(I can envision only two situations where high school math would be helpful
Murderer: I'm insane. Solve this trigonometry puzzle or I'll kill you.
Me: Can I use a graphing calculator?
Murderer: Sure, of course. Oh yeah--and here's a list of all the formulas you need.
Me: Great, thanks. OK, let's see here... sin2x = 2cosxsinx?
Murderer: Correct. You may go.)

Sometimes, when bullets are used, it looks like this:
- Hi, how are you?
-   Hi, I'm good.


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