EL DORADO—EL DORADO; Bilingual Edition, 242 pages
EL ÚLTIMO TOQUE DE RETRETA—THE LAST TATTOO; Bilingual
Edition, 251 pages
Both written by Robert Bruce Drynan
Translation by Yolanda Ramírez Míchel
Reviewed by Carol L. Bowman
Any author who has written and published a book knows what an accomplishment it is to launch just one book in one language. Ajijic writer, Robert Bruce Drynan has doubled the stakes. With the roll-out of two collections of historical accounts, short stories and anecdotes, in two languages, alternating paragraph by paragraph in English and Spanish, Bob has achieved this feat and has released both volumes at the same time. Each anthology, El Dorado, Bilingual Edition and El Último Toque de Retreta—The Last Tattoo, Bilingual Edition, was translated by Yolanda Ramírez Míchel.
The genius of these works comes with Bob’s ambitious goal to tell his well-crafted stories in both English and Spanish, and the clever format of translation of every paragraph provides an effective educational tool for the student studying either language. “Because the translation can’t be literal and each paragraph expresses a coherent theme, having the two close together makes it easier for the reader (student) to comprehend its meaning,” Bob said. In a painstaking effort, Yolanda Ramírez Míchel worked side by side with Bob to make sure that the translation in Spanish reflected the nuances and accurate mood portrayed in Bob’s English language stories.
The difficulties of literal translation are explored by Señora Ramírez in the introduction. Bob recalls a funny anecdote that demonstrates this problem. “The title of one story is The Last Tattoo. I chose the Spanish title myself, La Última Retreta. My translator and my book designer both insisted on changing the title to El Último Retrete, which means the “latest toilet.” It might have been great as a lead line for an ad in a late 19th century Sears Catalog, but not a book title.”
El Dorado includes four sections depicting the actual historical search for the City of Gold by the conquistadors in the Amazon Basin of South America. The following stories in this volume capture the underlying metaphor of El Dorado: the search for true love, happiness and man’s desire for new adventures. As a teaching tool, Bob suggests that stories of El Dorado are shorter and uncomplicated. “They better hold the interest of the student and are easier to comprehend, while offering a wider range of vocabulary and conceptual nuance.”
The Last Tattoo involves longer and more intricate tales, capturing the themes of international intrigue and personal ravages of war and other conflicts. Both volumes provide excellent tools for a Spanish speaker studying English or an English speaker learning Spanish and where better for these books to be available than in the bilingual environment in which we live. Local ESL students are shouting praises for El Dorado, as they can test their knowledge of English through the immediate Spanish translation and enjoy the context of the stories at the same time. “Much better than a textbook,” say the students.
Bob utilizes his extensive international experiences from a lifetime of living and doing business in South America, Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe and Germany. He weaves threads of truth in and out of his stories and draws from these encounters to enhance exceptional descriptions of places and times. Both of these books serve a dual purpose: entertainment and education.
Available for purchase at Diane Pearl Collection and Yves Restaurant, Ajijic or directly from the author.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com
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