What to read in a house full of books

Reading ads and picking on small-but-annoying mistakes (I have one of those with me today, too) is not the only thing I do for fun. I also read real, entire books. My problem is usually which book to read. My home library is an amalgam of my family's taste, and that covers quite a range, including – but not limited to – history, fantasy & sci-fi, thrillers, plays, popular science, and more. Mostly in English. Some I inherited from my parents; some my kids left behind when they flew the coop; some I received as gifts, rescued from being thrown out by neighbors, or bought at airports and bookshops around the world like Feltrinelli (Italy) and Waterstone's (UK), to name a few.

These days, however, I'm surrounded by a whole new collection, mostly in Hebrew but also in French and English: the library of my daughter Daria and her life-partner Noam. Not that I haven't visited their rented Tel Aviv apartment before; but these were on the whole brief, purposeful visits that didn't leave me much time for browsing the packed bookshelves. But if you've been following the vicissitudes of my life to any extent, you can't have missed the fact that I have recently become a grandmother. As such, I've had the privilege of pacing the couple's living room for hours, infant in arms, humming silly things like Ah-ah baby, Mummy is a lady, Daddy is a gentleman, and Momo is my baby. No rule that says I can't scan the bookshelves as I pace. Or, when my arms get tired, I can pass Baby to Grandpa, freeing my hands to actually take books off the shelf and look at them.

I made the decision not to bring the book I'm currently reading (The Book of Ultimate Truths, Robert Rankin) to Momositting sessions. My shoulder bag is heavy enough as it is, and why bring a book to a place that has so many volumes that I don't have at home?

And so it came to pass that I picked up something I've always thought I ought to read:Jack Keruack's On The Road. Unfortunately, it's in Hebrew. Translated by Oded Peled*. And therein lies the problem. I read a sentence, and wonder: What was the English? Why does this sentence sound so stiff? The translator uses the Hebrew word "gruta'a" – I bet the original says "jalopy"; really must check.

Which I did, and indeed the sentence is "Dean… was actually born on the road, when his parents were passing through Salt Lake City in 1926, in a jalopy…"
I end up being tempted to translate a few pages myself, without peeking, to see if there's any way I can make the Hebrew text flow more naturally and easily, as it does in English. Daria had said that she gave up on the book (in the Hebrew version) very early on, and decided to read it in English. As far as I know, she hasn't gotten around to it yet. Maybe when darling Momo starts sleeping through the night. Or through the day. One or the other.

And so, back to my usual kvetching about poor translation of trivial ads.
This one appears in Friday's (July 1st) Jerusalem Post special Active supplement, and sounds quite okay, except for one offending word. The English text, referring to wheat crackers with the "original" name Crispiot, says, inter alia:

"Crispiot are crisps made of 100% puffed wheat, which is rich in nutritional fibers."

Yes, dear translator; in Hebrew the expression is sivim tezunatyim, in the plural. But in English it's fiber, not fibers. Fibers are what material is made of, for instance. Besides, if you check the original English label of any foodstuff containing fiber, the "nutritional" is implicit; or else it's referred to as "dietary fiber". Or who knows – maybe you wrote it correctly, but a know-it-all Israeli editor thought he/she knew better…

Bon appétit, all; remember to include fiber in your diet.

* Some people liked Oded Peled's translation. Scroll down the article , because most of it refers to Shaul Levin's translation of The Original Scroll version.


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