Good on Paper

Good on Paper

Rachel Cantor

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 161219608X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Is a new life possible? Because Shira Greene’s life hasn’t quite turned out as planned. She’s a single mom living with her daughter and her gay friend, Ahmad. Her PhD on Dante’s Vita Nuova hasn’t gotten her a job, and her career as a translator hasn’t exactly taken off either.

But then she gets a call from a Nobel Prize-winning Italian poet who insists she’s the only one who can translate his newest book.

Stunned, Shira realizes that—just like that— her life can change. She sees a new beginning beckoning: academic glory, demand for her translations, and even love (her good luck has made her feel more open to the entreaties of a neighborhood indie bookstore owner).

There’s only one problem: It all hinges on the translation, and as Shira starts working on the exquisitely intricate passages of the poet’s book, she realizes that it may in fact be, well ... impossible to translate.

A deft, funny, and big-hearted novel about second chances, Good on Paper is a grand novel of family, friendship, and possibility.















about which path Dante should take, he does so in the guise of a pilgrim, forcing us, if we remember that image, to compare encounters and decide which path is best. We can’t do this if the earlier pilgrim is translated as “traveler,” as often he is. Benny was smiling again. I haven’t seen you so intent since that first time I heard you read! At Trixie’s! I said. The reading had been part of a short-lived series at a macrobiotic café, organized by my former writers’ group (The Purple People

into the room. Real people don’t talk like that, he whispered, then left the room. Silence. I took a breath and sat down on Andi’s bed. And the story? he asked. What are you thinking? What do you mean? Are you interesting in this? Was I interested in his story? As it happened, I wasn’t. I suspected the author’s purpose to be self-serving: the world should forgive him for breaking up a marriage. Assuming the world cared—and I didn’t think it did. I certainly didn’t. I’m reserving judgment,

had removed the shelves and added track lighting, probably so it could serve exactly this purpose. Ahmad had his office at school, and that office had amenities like doors and windows, so this little room was mine. I’d rigged a door out of a drape and curtain rod, which offended Ahmad’s aesthetic sensibility, but it was better, he said, than watching me hunt and peck at the keyboard while he was trying to cook. I turned on my computer and visited the chat room of the Translators of Note. I was,

asked. The charming chiasmus? he said. King James, Song of Songs, 2:16. Ani ledodi ve dodi li. Nicer in King James than the Bloch version, I said. Thanks for that, by the way. What’s that? Benny was talking with someone who wasn’t me. Be right there, pumpkin. Sorry, Shira, gotta go. My heart beat too quickly, tears welled. Benny’s pumpkin. His voice, speaking to her, was kind, it was gentle. Had anyone ever spoken to me that way? You don’t get to be pumpkin shagging your boss, not if you’re

deserve my daughter? Of course, I’d seen it before: Ahmad attacking—when he thought he was losing something, when he had lost something. It clearly wasn’t me he was worried about losing; if it was Andi, he might try problem-solving with me instead of issuing ultimatums and manipulating our girl behind my back—or, radical idea, he might wait till he’d heard about Hassan! It was nine months till summer: What was his rush? But then we were at Fourteenth Street. I allowed the crowd to carry me onto

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