Translation is a great exercise for stretching your knowledge of French. And if that were not motivation enough, this month we have a prize competition for you to take part in. All entrants will receive personal feedback from Françoise Le Roux and the sender of the best translation will receive a copy of both What we talk about when we talk about love by Raymond Carver and Parlez-moi d’amour, its French translation by Gabrielle Rolin. Use the form below to send in your entry by August 31st.
We located the lounge, got drinks, lit cigarettes.
“Here we are,” I said.
“Well, yes,” he said.
I shrugged and said, “Yes.”
I leaned back in the seat and drew a long breath, inhaling from what I took to be the air of woe
that circled his head.
He said, “I guess the Chicago airport would make four of this one.”
“More than that,” I said.
“Thought it was big,” he said.
“When did you start wearing glasses?” I said.
“A while ago,” he said.
He took a good swallow, and then he got right down to it.
“I liked to have died over it,” he said. He rested his heavy arms on either side of his glass.
“You’re an educated man, Les. You’ll be the one to figure it out.”
I turned the ashtray on its edge to read what was on the bottom: HARRAH’S CLUB/RENO
AND LAKE TAHOE/GOOD PLACES TO HAVE FUN.
“She was a Stanley Products woman. A little woman, small feet and hands and coal-black hair.
She wasn’t the most beautiful thing in the world. But she had these nice ways about her. She was
thirty and had kids. But she was a decent woman, whatever happened.
“Your mother was always buying from her, a broom, a mop, some kind of pie filling. You know
your mother. It was a Saturday, and I was home. Your mother was gone someplace. I don’t know
where she was. She wasn’t working. I was in the front room reading the paper and having a cup
of coffee when there was this knock on the door and it was this little woman. Sally Wain. She
said she had some things for Mrs. Palmer. ‘I’m Mr. Palmer,’ I says. ‘Mrs. Palmer is not here
now,’ I says. I ask her just to step in, you know, and I’d pay her for the things. She didn’t know
whether she should or not. Just stands there holding this little paper sack and the receipt with it.
“‘Here, I’ll take that,’ I says. ‘Why don’t you come in and sit down a minute till I see if I can
find some money.’”
Extract from Sacks by Raymond Carver, from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (1981)