Fat-bottomed Girls

No extensive cuts in the first ten pages of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, just one paragraph and a few minor sentences, but Birnbaum does choose to leave out one really nice line. The elevator door has opened and Boku Watashi is following the plump lady in a pink suit:

The woman was on the chubby side. Young and beautiful and all that went with it, but chubby. Now a young, beautiful woman who is, shall we say, plump, seems a bit off. Walking behind her, I fixated on her body. (7)

Here is the Japanese:

女はむっくりと太っていた。若くて美人なのだけれど、それにもかかわらず女は太っていた。若くて美しい女が太っているというのは、何かしら奇妙なものだった。私は彼女のうしろを歩きながら、彼女の首や腕や脚をずっと眺めていた。彼女の体には、まるで夜のあいだに大量の無音の雪が降ったみたいに、たっぷりと肉がついていた。(23)

Birnbaum gets everything, for the most part, but leaves out the last sentence for whatever reason. I thought it was nicely phrased:

The woman was chubby. Young and beautiful, sure, but chubby nonetheless. There’s something strange about a young, beautiful woman who is chubby. The whole time I walked behind her, I looked at her neck and arms and legs. It was as though a thick layer of fat had settled there overnight like a silent, heavy snowfall.

My guess is that Birnbaum didn’t want to make Boku Watashi seem like too much of a creeper this early in the novel. He cuts the final sentence and turns the specific target of Boku’s Watashi’s vision into a more general “fixated,” which I think reads smoothly but definitely alters the original.

3 thoughts on “Fat-bottomed Girls

  1. Nice to see you regularly updating again.

    I agree with your translation and prefer it actually. But I’m also a very literal translator and will always try to put out all the details the original author intended. And as a reader I want to know that I’m not missing out on something.

  2. I just started reading this in Japanese, and I’m looking forward to regularly popping back here to read your thoughts on the translation. Thank you for making these posts :)