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January 29, 2005

Fiction: The Dancing Detective

The Dancing Detective (www.tangomascarada.com) is a tango murder mystery in English, French, Spanish, Greek and German. With illustrations and soundtrack. (Requires Flash player.)

Succinct and campy, the language imitates the trite hard-boiled American detective fiction of the '30s and '40s. Wolf weaves tango into the text with fetishized fragments -- his detective finds splinters from CDs of rare Tango music at the crime scene, a woman's "plunging neckline" is a metonym of the underlying kinky eroticism of this story's perverse tango underworld. All surface, little depth, a pastiche of clichés - it gives a smell of tango that seems simultaneously true and false.

"My God," he said, "the killer walked her to the cross and crucified her." He didn't know who it was, but Damien recognized the steps; the killer was a tango dancer.

Comparing the different translations from the English yields some interesting nuances. The translators seem to have their own individual styles, and some vernacular slang comes through. I discovered that "dancing detective" is "boeuf qui danse" in French.

And I think the crucifixion line I quoted above has more of a ring to it (more assonance, more end rhyme) in Spanish:

Dios mío” se dijo, “el asesino la llevó hasta el cruce y la crucificó”.

The story was first published in the New York magazine ReporTango in March
2003. The author, Victor Levant, is a Gestalt Psychotherapist, PhD. In International Relations
and a tango dancer in Montreal, Canada.

Posted by joegrohens at January 29, 2005 01:01 PM


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