Friday, June 11, 2010
The Pasta Detectives
The Pasta Detectives by Andreas Steinhöfel (the English translation of Steinhöfel's German novel, Rico, Oskar und die Tiefferschatten, wonderfully translated by Chantal Wright) is the story of Rico, a child proddity detective and his child prodigy detective friend. Rico explains that being a child proddity is "a bit like being a child prodigy, but also like the opposite."
Told from Rico's point of view, the story opens a window into the brain of someone who thinks a lot but needs a lot of time to sort things out. If he thinks really hard about something, the "lottery balls" start up in his head, confusing him. But when Rico teams up with a new friend, Oskar, the two of them are able to solve the mystery of Mr. 2000.
The original was a bestseller in Germany. I can only assume that the voice Steinhöfer gives Rico is as perfect in German as it was in English. The translation certainly shines. Voiciness is essential to any good story, as Julie Hedlund recently wrote. Maybe it helps to find your voice when you have a distinctive character in mind and tell the story in the first person.
Two of the stories I'm writing are first person POV. I will have to go back to look at them closely to get a feel for the voiciness of each main character. But books like The Pasta Detectives provide a delightful opportunity to study how it's done.