Saturday, April 23, 2011


You’re probably aware that I’m waiting to hear back from a London-based literary agent who’s reading my manuscript. That is, if she didn’t use it as kindling as soon as she saw its mammoth, unpublishable, size. (They did have a very cold winter over there.) I blame it on the double spacing and unhealthy margins required by standard submission formatting.

And yet that’s not the only thing I’m waiting for this year. In fact, the theme of my entire year thus far has all been about waiting. This could be due to the fact that we’ve entered the Year of the Rabbit and I was born in the year of the Boar. Another likely explanation is the meteor shower that sizzled over our heads in Auckland earlier in the year: I was asleep at the time so it may have affected me particularly badly.

I’m American so I’m not used to waiting. Waiting for things to happen makes me feel powerless. It makes me pace and check my email way too often and change my outfit four times and still not be happy with the way I look. It’s times like these I wish I was a smoker.

Some of the things that I’m waiting for – and hoping for – simply can’t be named, because if I say them out loud, they won’t eventuate. But I will risk sharing with you a few of the other things I’m waiting for:

I’m waiting for my passport to be renewed by the US consulate in Auckland, hoping that it will arrive in time for my trip next month.

I’m waiting for the next passport renewal opportunity in ten years’ time, so I can provide a photo that doesn’t look like the mug shot.

I’m waiting for world peace.

I’m waiting for the price of cheese to drop.

I’m waiting for someone to clean the oven after I melted my son’s plastic frying pan in it while baking fish fingers. Until then there’s a moratorium on homemade pizza. So please stop asking.

I’m waiting to see if I actually disintegrate on my upcoming fortieth birthday.

I’m waiting to learn French. By osmosis.

I’m waiting for my cold sore to heal. Until then, I find odd pleasure in telling people not to get too close because I have “herpes”.

I’m waiting to be beamed up and teletransported to a beach in the Dominican Republic.

I’m waiting for someone to translate Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks in Italian so that I don’t have to spontaneously translate “tweetle beetle puddle battle” to my bilingual son.

I’m waiting for my eyesight to improve.

I’m waiting for Maori to become the second most spoken language in the world after English, so that I have a reason to learn it.

I’m waiting for my crow’s feet to disappear. Like the cream said.

I’m waiting for Auckland City Council to build a walkway over the estuary separating our house from the cool brand-new playground they built for the rich people on the other side.

I’m waiting for money to drop from the sky. Or at least grow on the plum tree in our backyard.

I’m waiting for the pages to run out in my little notebook so I can finally end the obsessive record keeping of every grammatically correct phrase my toddler utters and every time he recognizes a color instead of calling everything “red”.

I’m waiting for the inspiration to write a blogpost so amazing that it will get 28,864,527 hits like that German beatboxing teenager on Youtube (

They say good things come to those who wait.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hot stuff (Italian-English)

La noce di macadamia vi indica la scala:
il secondo libro è molto più piccolo del primo.
The macadamia nut shows you the scale:
the second book is much smaller than the first.
Sarete i primi a saperlo: sto scrivendo il mio secondo libro. Magari è un po’ prematuro, visto che non ho ancora pubblicato il primo, ma poi mi dicono che tanti scrittori famosi hanno pubblicato il secondo prima del primo. Anche io potrei essere precoce in questo senso.

You’re the first to know: I’m writing my second book. Perhaps it’s a bit premature, given that I haven’t published the first yet, but then again I’ve heard that many famous writers published their second book before their first. And I too could be precocious like that.

Il protagonista del mio nuovo romanzo è tratto dalla realtà; per proteggere la sua privacy – e per semplicità – lo chiamerò Fighetto. Piace a tutti, ’sto Fighetto, perché è un tipo sicuro di sé, avventuroso e alla mano, che in qualsiasi momento è disposto a calare le braghe. Gira nudo per la casa urlando, “Dov’è il mio microfono?” È molto indipendente, non accetta la parola ‘no’. Ama la chitarra, le donne, le carote. Per conquistarle (cioè le donne, non le carote), si mette a ballare. Se ciò non funziona, gli offre l’acqua dalla propria brocca; non è uno di quelli che hanno paura della bava altrui. Con quei vispi occhi azzurri e i capelli a caschetto alla Paul McCartney, fa davvero strage di cuori.

The main character in my novel is taken from real life; to protect his privacy – and for simplicity’s sake – I’ll call him Hot Stuff. Everyone likes this guy called Hot Stuff because he’s confident, adventurous and approachable, the kind of guy who will drop his pants at any time. He walks around the house naked, yelling, “Where’s my microphone?” He’s very independent; he won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He loves the guitar, women, carrots. In order to win them over (women, that is, not carrots), he starts to dance. If that doesn’t work, he offers them water from his very own bottle: he’s not the kind of guy who’s afraid of other people’s slobber. With those lively blue eyes and Paul McCartney bowl-cut, he’s a real heartbreaker.

Come anche il mio primo libro, questo secondo romanzo è ricco di dialogo autentico. Per esempio:

All’alba Fighetto si sveglia. “Alzateti.”

“Subito,” fa la schiava.

“Mangiamo crackers?” chiede con un sorriso ammiccante.

“Del tipo?”

Fighetto pondera una risposta. “Ah, tipo mais.”

“OK, signorino. Hai dormito bene?”

“Oh sì sì.”

“Hai sognato qualcosa?”

Forse Fighetto non ha sentito.

“Hai sognato qualcosa?” ripete la schiava.

“No comment.”

As with my first book, this second novel is rich in authentic dialogue. For example:

At the crack of dawn Hot Stuff wakes up. “Get up.”

“Right away,” says his slave.

“Should we eat some crackers?” he asks with a knowing smile.

“Like what?”

Hot Stuff carefully ponders his reply. “Ah, like corn crackers.”

“OK, master. Did you sleep well?”

“Oh yes.”

“Did you dream anything?”

Hot Stuff appears not to have heard.

“Did you dream anything?” repeats the slave.

“No comment.”

Lo so, state pensando che quest’ultimo desiderio di privacy ineffetti contraddice l’idea che già vi siete fatti di Fighetto, cioè che abbia un carattere leggermente esigente ed esibizionista. Ma è un personaggio complesso, dotato anche di una sensibilità estrema, come vista nel seguente brano:

Fighetto ammira dal terrazzo la vista del giardino rigoglioso in piena estate. “Bello,” dichiara. “Le cicale cantano. Bel panorama.”

I know, you’re thinking that this final wish for privacy actually contradicts the impression you’ve already formed of Hot Stuff, that he is slightly demanding and somewhat of an exhibitionist. But he’s a complex character who is also endowed with incredible sensitivity, as can be seen from the following passage:

From the deck, Hot Stuff looks out over the garden blooming in all its midsummer glory. “Nice,” he declares. “The cicadas are singing. Nice view.”

E che cos’è un libro se non la storia di un personaggio? Beh’, lo ammetto – di trama il libro è ancora un po’ scarso, ma sono soltanto alla prima stesura. Penso che col tempo una narrativa più strutturata comparirà dall’insieme di momenti salienti della vita di Fighetto: il momento in cui si innamora per la prima volta, sulla spiaggia, di una donna di parecchio più matura di lui che lo abbondonerà dopo un solo weekend, il momento in cui deve curarsi all’ospedale per una caduta dalla moto ad alta velocità (e senza mutande), il momento in cui, osservando nella giungla le scimmie attraverso il binocolo, per poco non si fa azzannare da un cocodrillo. Per non parlare del momento di grande suspense in cui riesce a dormire, per la prima volta, tutta la notte.

And what is a book if not the story of a person? OK, I will admit that the book is still lacking somewhat in terms of plot, but I’m only on the first draft. I believe that with time a more structured narrative will emerge from the many highlights in the life of Hot Stuff: the time he falls in love for the first time, on the beach, with a woman much older than him who abandons him after just one weekend away, the time he has to receive hospital treatment after falling off his motorbike at high speed (and without underwear), the time when he was in the jungle observing monkeys through his binoculars and almost got bitten by a crocodile. Not to mention that highly suspenseful moment when, for the first time, he manages to sleep through the night.

Per ora il libro è scritto a mano, ma non ho nessun dubbio che presto lo potrete trovare in edizione rilegata alla Feltrinelli. Sono solo indecisa se intitolare questo secondo capolavoro Le avventure di Fighetto oppure Mi ucciderà se un giorno lo leggo ad alta voce alla sua festa di compleanno maggiorenne.

For now the book is handwritten, but I have no doubt that soon you’ll be able to find it in hard copy at your local Borders. I’m just still unsure whether to call this second masterpiece The Adventures of Hot Stuff or He’ll Kill Me If One Day I Read It Out Loud at His Twenty-first.