Three Plastic Rooms - 21.11. 2017 vychází Petře Hůlové Umělohmotný třípokoj anglicky

Tomáš Weiss

Každý překlad české literatury do světového jazyka je svátkem. Překlad do angličtiny je pak vlastně zprostředkováním textu celé euro-americké civilizaci. Jak asi přijmou světoobčané stylizované vyprávěné české prostitutky o její práci a jejích postřezích o našem světě? Jak se podařilo Alexi Zuckerovi přeložit rašpli a zandavák?

Newyorský rodák Alex Zucker původně vystudoval zoologii a vypadalo to, že se stane mořským biologem. Pak se těsně před sametovou revolucí vypravil do Prahy a tahle cesta se stala rozcestníkem v jeho životní dráze: brzy nato se naučil česky a již od devadesátých let se dal na dráhu literárního překladatele. Dnes patří mezi nejčinorodější překladatele z češtiny do angličtiny, za své překlady byl vyznamenán několika cenami. Anglofonním čtenářům zprostředkoval díla Magdaleny Platzové, Tomáše Zmeškala, Patrika Ouředníka, Jáchyma Topola či právě Petry Hůlové.

30. listopadu bude v Knihovně Václava Havla debatovat Alex Zucker s Jáchymem Topolem o své práci. Třeba se také vyjádří k tomu, jestli si troufne i na překlad jazykově ďábelského Topolova Citlivého člověka. I když - on Umělohmoťák Petry Hůlové překladatele taky zrovna nešetří.

Tady máme ukázku z anglického překladu. Pro kontrolu si můžete v českém originálu nalistovat stranu 75, kapitola Televizní díl čtvrtý: Vesnické cyklistky:

TV Episode Four:

Backwater Cyclists

We can already see him from here, standing in the distance. Our client. Stuffed into his pants like sausage, but it isn’t enough to spoil our ride or our sunny mood. It’s getting pretty boring anyway, what with the second woman going on about her seaside vacation, which was actually no vacation at all and she knows it, since she only had one day off a week. Cash in hand and off we go. At the sight of the fat cat, my sticker-inner swallowed drily, like a speaker before a speech, or at least that was my impression, sitting on the bike with the seat beneath my rear end, there’s no way to tell exactly what he’s mumbling down there. But he’ll come round, no doubt, and some cream will help him not to think about himself so much.

The thought that people travel so they can feel younger crosses my mind before I dismount and the second woman and I shake hands with the client, since if you travel by train or bus, there’s always another new horizon popping up to surprise you, just one after the other, the way life comes at you when you’re seventeen or twenty-two and still in a youthful frame of mind. I also often feel that way when I ride my bike, but as soon as I dismounted in front of that fat cat, the feeling totally left me and I could see my thirty everywhere, even if the only place it was actually written was on the address of my building and that’s all.


Just a few moments ago, hair blowing in the wind, my age could go fuck a dog. Wind, like travel, is a rejuvenator. Riding against the wind smooths out your face better than any cream or the older ladies’ trend of walking around with a portable blower to blow back their chubby, sagging cheeks and give their hair that carefree look. For some reason the fluttering movement gives that impression, it’s a surefire unpatented idea, and battery makers would love it too, since it would run on four double-As, and they could also pack other ladies’ accessories in along with it, like an epilator and a hair dryer with curling iron, the way they did with those massive five-story Swiss Army knives that bloated up from sucking in all those little tools that used to be separate, and now they weigh so much that they tear right through your pocket.

A ladies’ portable blower wouldn’t be that greedy, though, since for ladies of a certain age to lug around a blower with extensive accessories, on top of their blouse-stuffed handbag of menopausal first aid, would impede the unencumbered men in running the city. On every street corner you’d find some woman turned to face the building’s façade, taking a break to change her blouse, while some other woman, on her way in to an important meeting, would be blowing air over her face in front of the building where her meeting was scheduled, since the blower’s main drawback would be that any wrinkles you smoothed away would set back in again after just a few minutes, so you’d have to keep blowing your face all day, with just short breaks for work, and the female population’s performance would drastically decline, and even more time would be lost moistening the skin, since the stream of air would deplete their skin of moisture, and with all that going on, the whole city would be paralyzed as a result of the ladies’ meticulous self-preening, until finally it reached the point where the men would start to grumble that they would rather have them old and ugly than constantly preoccupied and blocking traffic, and I bet plenty of gullible women would fall for it, but my guess is that their sticker-inners wouldn’t be rewarded with more frequent visits in return for their obedience.

When our fat cat client instructed me to bring a second woman for our next yee-haw, he was also particular about stipulating the age range. And then of course there are the special cases. Assuming they aren’t violent or request that violence be used against them, they usually have a deficiency of judgment regarding the age of the sticker-inner’s owner, or, shall we say, the tender young sticker-inner’s tender young owner, since that’s the group these special cases have their sights set on, the ones with no more down than a freshly hatched chick, except that unlike the damp tufts on a baby chicken, the fuzzy down on these little girls with rare exceptions is dry as hell and there’s no way to do it with them without lubrication, since they’re about as interested in planting the alley, as the second woman calls hammering, as they are in math class, except if they don’t go to class, their daddykins gives them a spanking, whereas big uncle-daddykins who ordered them for the fuckshop will give them a spanking just for walking in the door, since where else in the city is he going to find them, assuming he isn’t the other kind of special case, who snatches little girls off the street to pummel them off in the bushes somewhere, but now we’ve stepped out of the realm of sexual services covered by rules and plunged feet first into the underworld of crime, albeit unorganized.

If anything like this were to happen in my neighborhood, I would firmly inform the gentleman from the police, whom otherwise I consider to be one of my favorite clients, that I refuse to satiate his fair-minded and exemplary pecker until the police solve the case and toss the assailant behind bars.

Then again, once they did solve the case, I would happily offer the gentleman from the police two anals free of charge, which normally, as he knows, I do only grudgingly and for an outrageously exorbitant price, which is enough to discourage most clients, although for those few who say they wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much without the sacrifice of that stack of hard-earned cash, for that much money I grease up my ass and bend over, be my guest.


For some men in fact the paying is what turns them on the most, but most prefer not to. People talk about men as if they all belonged to the same family, when they don’t even have a common stance on something so basic as finances. My advice to all those psychologistesses who go on about male vanity, men’s unwillingness to be willing and their prioritizing watching TV over fine-tuning their relationship, which amounts to the women analyzing how it is that communication between them could break down so badly when they try so hard to make everything work and dabbing at their eyes with a handkerchief the whole time, looking to extort an apology for every little injustice, is that instead of greasing the wheels of family harmony, they should be greasing their sticker-inners and don’t spare the cream on that pastry, since whatever differences there may be between my clients, men like to eat and screw, and constantly explaining that you aren’t thin enough or that you have a headache that evening is the best way to launch them out of the family nest into the orbit of chronically late homecomings, which may mean yes, he’s frequenting a fuckshop, and the little lady cries over spilled milk.

I do chat with the men sometimes, but I’m strictly opposed to any attempts at therapy. In my opinion the psychologistesses would do best to keep their traps shut more often and devote their energy to the kitchen or the office or collecting trilobites, and just accept things as they are.

I don’t claim that it’s always possible. For instance, the wife of the fat cat who is studying me and the second woman right now as we nibble at each other’s nipples in an attempt to heighten his orgasm, since his bangstick is one of the lazier ones, would probably bawl her eyes out if she saw what was going on, and come in to work the next day with her nose red as a beet. But, I’m sorry, that doesn’t fall under my jurisdiction and it isn’t my responsibility, because everyone here is over eighteen, and I say that because when it comes to the barely downy little girls the clients sometimes request, I feel a huge burden of responsibility, and I would jump down the throat of any man, no matter how elegant, who asked me for the number of a service for underage girls.

As a result of the responsibility I feel toward the young, I have a constant need to rejuvenate myself. In part to keep the flow of funds to my embossed credit card from being interrupted, and in part because a fresh-looking thirty-year-old can help dampen the lecherous desire for a fourteen-year-old. By taking care of myself, I help protect the young gals from premature insertion, although truth be told, most of the men who throng to the child fuckshops don’t even know mine exists, and not even the most supple thirty-year-old pussy, a master actress with all the aces up her sleeve, can convincingly play a fourteen-year-old.

To make it work requires a client who is at least halfway principled and finds my act of deception entertaining, so that while he fantasizes unlawfully, the hammering keeps him as hard as my ass, which he pumps full steam ahead, and we both get to tell ourselves that our little production is helping a girl on the other side of town prolong the phase of cute experimentation, whose most daring feat consists of a failed attempt to French kiss the boy from the classroom across the hall, which later that evening she’ll recount in whispered tones into the ear of her stuffed teddy bear. In other words, I do my level best for my ass-shaking child rescue campaign to be more than just a bombastic boast that doesn’t add up to diddly, since what the eye can’t see won’t hurt a flea, but for it to have genuine impact, the kind of rescue that makes a St. Bernard, trudging through the snowdrifts all day long with a barrel of rum around his neck to resuscitate reckless cross-country skiers buried under an avalanche, look like a puppy on a convalescent stroll after cardiological surgery. Bike rides aren’t shit.

Look at the grannies in headscarves, riding boneshakers left and right in even the tiniest, most out-of-the-way Czech villages. Over the course of a lifetime, these backwater cyclists pedal more miles than any city slicker in an aerodynamic outfit on his tricked-out mountain bike could ever dream of, and what’s more, they do it with bags of groceries dangling from the handlebars and baskets full of pears and jars of raspberry jam, and yet they don’t look like they’re in shape at all, or any younger than their years, most of them. This is something to consider as another juicy topic for our TV mystery series, and I must say, it gives me a good feeling to devote my energy to something like this so systematically, but as far as arriving at an effective method for approximating the look of a fourteen-year-old, in order to spare her from the clutches of a nasty uncle-daddykins, it isn’t going to help, even if we were to borrow a few original boneshakers from the technical museum to use in our series.

It isn’t going to help, because even if no one can take away those women’s title for number of miles pedaled, they still look more like they broke the record for eating those jars of raspberry jam that they chauffeur around in their baskets.

Neither biking nor any other calisthenics is going to save you, in and of themselves, that’s the bottom line. Any woman who wants to look hammerable, and that’s all of them, can’t get by without maintenance. Whether or not your goal is as challenging and socially beneficial as pretending to be fourteen is beside the point.

So we’ve ended up in the same place I’ve landed every time so far. At the end of my wits, with the time-tested combination of pigtails, dimples, schoolgirl uniform with short skirt and knee socks, and above all, smooth-shaved runway, period.

That was exactly what the fat cat waiting for me and the second woman in front of the building that sunny day wanted, and we made the transformation to fourteen right there in front of him, since he wanted to witness the process of transformation, and why not?

English translation copyright © 2017 Alex Zucker

London: Jantar Publishing, 2017