Friday, December 23, 2016

Good on Paper

Good on Paper by Rachel Cantor, 299 pages

Once a Dante scholar and poetry translator, now Shira's trudging through the last few months of 1999, moving from one disappointing temp job to another while she and her daughter live rent-free with Ahmad, her gay best friend. Out of nowhere, a Nobel Prize-winning poet contacts her and asks him to translate his latest poetry work from Italian to English. Shira scoops up the job, plunges into the work, and slowly comes to the realization that the work is completely untranslatable. Throw in some drama with the local bookstore owner and Ahmad, and suddenly everything is falling to pieces around Shira.

This book took some work getting into, what with all the Dante and obscure poetry exposition going on at the beginning. However, once Shira started getting into the guts of the translation attempt, the story picked up quite a bit. I enjoyed how Cantor played with language, much like Romei, the Nobel laureate does in her story. It's not a book for everyone, but it is enjoyable.

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