categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence
Okay, this coming Sunday, November 10, my review of Eleanor Catton’s second novel, The Luminaries, will appear in the print edition of the The New York Times Book Review. The review has been online since October 16 in recognition of Ms. Catton’s winning the Booker Prize the day before, wonderful. But something strange–a friend googling to find the review came up with a site called Daily News. The photo of Ms. Catton is oddly stretched out, and then, so is my prose! Pirates! They’ve apparently used a computer program to slightly alter the text (no doubt in an effort to avoid the letter of copyright law, but maybe as a perverse courtesy, as they are no doubt in some other part of the world. I was given no by-line on their version, but the program did include my bio. I offer two paragraphs here for comparison. And my bio, which is meant to say: Bill Roorbach’s most recent book is Life Among Giants. He blogs at Bill and Dave’s Cocktail Hour.
Paragraph 2 in the original:
It’s a lot of fun, like doing a Charlotte Brontë-themed crossword puzzle while playing chess and Dance Dance Revolution on a Bongo Board. Some readers will delight in the challenge, others may despair. I went both ways: always lost in admiration for this young New Zealander’s vast knowledge and narrative skill, sometimes lost in her game, wishing at times for more warmth, delighted by her old-school chapter headings (“In which a stranger arrives . . . ” “In which Quee Long brings a complaint before the law . . . ”), puzzled by her astrology, Googling everything twice and three times, scratching my head, laughing out loud, sighing with pleasure at sudden connections, flipping back pages and chapters and whole sections for rereadings, forging ahead with excitement renewed.
Paragraph 2 in the pirate translation:
It is a good deal of entertaining, like carrying out a Charlotte Brontë-themed crossword puzzle whilst playing chess and Dance Dance Revolution on a Bongo Board. Some viewers will delight in the challenge, others could despair. I went both approaches: often dropped in admiration for this younger New Zealander’s vast information and narrative ability, sometimes misplaced in her game, wishing at instances for more heat, delighted by her aged-school chapter headings (“In which a stranger comes . . . ” “In which Quee Lengthy delivers a grievance ahead of the regulation . . . ”), puzzled by her astrology, Googling every little thing two times and a few instances, scratching my head, laughing out loud, sighing with pleasure at sudden connections, flipping again pages and chapters and complete sections for rereadings, forging ahead with pleasure renewed.
Final paragraph in the original:
“The Luminaries” is a true achievement. Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so doing created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new. The pages fly, the great weight of the book shifting quickly from right hand to left, a world opening and closing in front of us, the human soul revealed in all its conflicted desperation. I mean glory. And as for the length, surely a book this good could never be too long.
Final paragraph in the pirate translation:
“The Luminaries” is a real achievement. Catton has created a energetic parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so undertaking produced a novel for the twenty first, one thing utterly new. The internet pages fly, the fantastic bodyweight of the guide shifting swiftly from proper hand to left, a globe opening and closing in entrance of us, the human soul revealed in all its conflicted desperation. I suggest glory. And as for the duration, absolutely a book this good could by no means be way too lengthy.
Bill Roorbach’s most recent book is “Life Between Giants,” a novel. He blogs at Invoice and Dave’s Cocktail Hour.