The Sporadic Beaver

My Favorite Footnote

January 5, 2012

Tags: Nowhere Man, Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon, Paolo Palmieri, footnotes

A belated happy new year to one and all!

Yesterday I received a couple of copies of the Italian edition of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon (back cover, right, front cover here).

What most struck me about the book were the extensive footnotes, which are unlike anything that's appeared in any other foreign language edition. The translator, Paolo Palmieri, took pains to explain words and phrases that were impossible to render in Italian without losing some of the meaning. Lennon’s puns and wordplay, Liverpudlian English, and words that rhymed in English but not in Italian were all obsessively annotated.

Here’s an excerpt from my favorite footnote, which appears in the chapter called “Il Lennon Dei Rimpianti” (“Lennon’s Complaint”):

«What did you do to ME fuckin’ cock?»; raro caso cui è possible rendere perfettamente il senso della traduzione operando tra gerghi di lingue diverse: il “me” di Liverpool sta infatti per l’inglese “my”, ovvero viene usata in forma gergale la particella pronominal “me” in sostituzione del possessivo “my”.

What he’s saying, briefly, is that in Liverpudlian slang, sometimes people say “me” instead of “my.” Though I’m sure the Latin mavens among you figured that out on your own.

On David Foster Wallace and Footnotes

May 12, 2011

Tags: David Foster Wallace, Adult Video News, Beaver Street, pornography, Traci Lords, footnotes

David Foster Wallace. Photo by bjohnson.
The late David Foster Wallace was no stranger to the porn industry. Writing as Willem R. deGroot and Matt Rundlet for the September 1998 issue of Premiere, Wallace’s satiric takedown of the Adult Video News awards, “Neither Adult nor Entertainment,” was laced, as was most of his work, with hilarious footnotes. Wallace pushed the use of annotation to the limits of comic absurdity in a way I’d never seen, and by so doing, he paved the way for me to do the same thing in Beaver Street.

My footnotes, I think, add a new dimension to the book. As an example, I'll quote from the footnote on page 156, which describes the people on fringes of the adult industry who magazine editors could no longer work with in the aftermath of the Traci Lords scandal:

“These ‘marginal’ photographers and models were the people who made porno interesting, gave it what passed for a soul, and delivered the true grit and unvarnished reality of American sexuality—like the plumbers from St. Louis who sent in sleazy Polaroids of their naked girlfriends splayed pink on rusting lawn chairs in junk-strewn backyards; the garbage men from Detroit who submitted strangely erotic images of tattooed dancers with oversized clits posing on grungy toilets; and the postal workers from Pittsburgh who shot exhibitionist housewives shaving their pudenda for cheap thrills and a taste of ‘trailer-park celebrity.’”