Today we are very lucky to have Kenny Brechner, of DDG Booksellers in Farmington, Maine (an independent shop that is surely among the treasures of the state), offering up a guest post. Kenny somehow managed to score an interview with that fierce and prickly book, The True Deceiver. What dark magic he used to entice this work to speak with him, we'll never know. All we can say that the answers it gives show the book to be as gnomic as that great interview dissimulator, Bob Dylan. [microphone photo: Keith Bloomfield via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons usage.]
This interview originally ran on Three Percent, "a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester," as part of the run-up for the Best Translated Book Award, for which The True Deceiver has been long listed. To read the complete post, along with Kenny Brechner's endorsement of the book, visit Three Percent.
KB: Do you feel that this BTBA [Best Translated Book Award] will be conducted fairly?
True Deceiver: “You know nothing about Fair Play!”
KB: Perhaps not, but how can the awards committee reach truth?
True Deceiver: “The truth needs to be hammered in with iron spikes, but no one can drive nails into a mattress.”
KB: I see. Perhaps you’re right and the committee will need to take a firm line. Now do you feel that Tomas Teal handled his translation of you properly, considering how taut the prose is?
True Deceiver: “Cluttering the ground with Flowery Rabbits would have been unthinkable”.
KB: I see. Now if you had a word for a judge what would it be?
True Deceiver: “He must understand how hard I try, all the time, to put everything I do to a strict test—every act, every word I choose instead of a different word.”
KB: Is there any other objective data that would make the selection of any book other than yourself as the BTBA winner a danger to the future well being of the human enterprise?
True Deceiver: “I’ve given security where there was no security, no direction, Nothing. I provide safety!”
KB: I really appreciate your willingness to go on record and clarify these points. The stakes are terrifying.
True Deceiver: “I can assure you that you needn’t be nervous, there’s no cause for alarm.”
KB: I guess there’s nothing else to be said on the matter!
True Deceiver: “We’ve done what matters most.”
KB: Well I certainly hope so, for all human interconnection involves translation, and without an exploration of its dark possibilities we should all be much the poorer. And, if you don’t mind my saying so, you really add something vital to the whole of Tove Jansson’s sublime body of work. After all the Moomins may demonstrate the delightful exercise of freedom, but your pages reveal both the cost and the means of losing it.
True Deceiver: “Thank you for calling.”
The True Deceiver
by Tove Jansson
Translated by Thomas Teal
Introduction by Ali Smith