Monday, June 16, 2008

All Roads Do Not Lead to Rome

It has been said that "all roads lead to Rome." Well, this one doesn't. Some time ago I wrote a post on my entry for Fnac's mini-story contest. Well, they've finally chosen the twenty finalists out of the over 5,000 entries. Mine is not one of them. Not that I ever expected it to be, but it was fun to dream about that fabulous trip to anywhere in Europe that they're giving away as a first prize. Oh well, Rome will have to wait.

But still, it's disappointing to think that my story will be lost forever somewhere in Fnac's virtual wastebasket. So, I'll share it with you. It's in Spanish, but there's a translation at the end:


En todos sus años como comisario, Martínez nunca había visto nada igual. Ya iban siete muertes por librofagia esta semana.

¿Cómo había empezado todo?

Nadie tenía muy claro de donde había salido la absurda idea de que las pastillas hechas de cenizas de libro tenían beneficios para el que se las tomaba. Seguramente el bulo empezó por Internet. Que si las pastillas hechas con libros eróticos tenían efectos afrodisíacos, que si los problemas personales se solucionaban con las de libros de autoayuda. Menuda chorrada.

Pero la gente se cree todo lo que lee en Internet.

Miró al hombre que tenia delante. Un escritor de poca monta. Buscó inspiración en los grandes autores. En su lugar encontró la muerte por una perforación gástrica, después de tragarse una caja entera de pastillas hechas con el Quijote.

Martinez siempre había sospechado que el Quijote podía ser mortal, pero no de esa manera.

In all his years as Chief of Police, Martínez had never seen any thing like it. This was the seventh death by bookphagy this week.

How did it all start?

Nobody was really sure about the origin of the absurd idea that pills made with book ash are beneficial to those who take them. The rumor must have started on the Internet. That pills made of erotic novels have aphrodisiac effects, that personal problems can be solved with those made of self-help books. What stupidity.

But people will believe anything they read on the Internet.

He looked at the man in front of him. A would-be writer. One who had searched for inspiration in the great authors. Instead, he found death by gastric perforation, after swallowing a whole boxful of pills made with Don Quixote.

Martínez had always suspected that Don Quixote could be deadly, but not quite in this way.

Okay that's my best go at translating it. Doesn't quite work as well in English as it does in Spanish, and makes me really appreciate the work of all those translators out there. Some stuff just does get lost in translation, I guess.

At Scrivel the humor never needs translation, just a crazy mind.


  1. Well, that was rather insane.

    I like it. Awfully tough to build up to a punchline in only 150 words. Nice effort.

  2. LOL, i love it1 i can just imagine quixote charging at stomach ulcers!

  3. Hmmm ... have you been reading Jasper Fforde? If not, you should be!

  4. I like the word " librofagia". Sounds very poetic and better in Spanish than English!

  5. Theresa that was so clever! What a great story.
    You should have made the finals.
    Keep on writing!

  6. erik: Thanks. It had to be about books or reading, and I wanted to do something different. But maybe I went too far with the last line. Don Quixote is sacred here. :)

    lime: Ooh, great image. That gives me an idea...

    fionacat: Nope, but I'll see if I can dig him up at the library.

    zhu: Definitely better in Spanish. Not a real word, but better.

    gillian: Thanks. It was my first try, so I wasn't expecting too much, but I'll keep at it. New avatar? I like it. :)

  7. What do you need to win a trip to Rome for? It's only 1000 miles away from you. Heck, I drive that in one day! ;-)

  8. Sorry you didn't win, but Jeff has a point :) I loved your story, just the same - even in English. Sometimes my husband tries to translate something that he's laughed at in Spanish and it just doesn't come across the same.

  9. You are a clever lass, indeed. I'd like you to take a tilt at those judges!

  10. You were robbed!

    I LOVE "librofagia", and YES, this should be an ongoing piece. Write a bit each week?

  11. Very good. Now you've got me wondering what effects other books would have: The Grapes of Wrath, To The Cider House Rules, A Farewell to Arms....

  12. They don't know what they missed in not chosing you. May a thousand ants crawl up theri legs... ;-)
    Catherine, the redhead blogger

  13. Funny...I got a different translation when I put it through Babel Fish...