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Translation Questions for "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things"




Page 10


My white T-shirt catches the red tear in my chin».


“tear" as in when you cry? or "tear" as in something torn open?


Tear as in cut, rip in the skin.


Page 12


«Panic lurches in my chest and I turn toward her in my seat».


Can you give me a synonym for "lurch" here?


Jumps forward in my chest. Arises in my chest.


Page 14


«can't say I didn't do rabbits' tricks to try and get rid of you»


What does the phrase "do rabbits' trick" mean? That she tried every

possible system, something like that?


 Yes, that she tried every possible way. Rabbits' tricks = like a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat. That she would have used magic if possible or anything in her power.


Page 15


«She jerks my arms above my head, puffs on her cigarette, and exhales, her head shaking the smoke out like a released balloon».

I'm not sure I understand the part of the head "shaking the smoke out etc."


Can you clarify that? What is similar to a released balloon? The head, blowing out smoke the way a suddenly released balloon would blow out air?


Yes, the head, blowing out smoke is like a suddenly released balloon would blow out air.



Page 17


«I watch a yellow dog chasing what looks like a long-tail fox through the burnt orange bushes near the road»


"orange" as in the color, or as in the proper fruit?


 Orange as in the color.


Page 30


«but then the voices you were throwing were enough to drive a bean field Mexican insane».


Who is a "bean field Mexican"? A Mexican who works picking up beans in the field? Why is he mentioned as a comparison? Because he's supposed to be very patient?


 Yes, a Mexican who works picking beans in a field all day must have extreme patience and an internal capacity not to go insane even while doing the same task over and over.


Page 35


"They did all clear away like jackrabbits when you brought me that Jack and ginger" "Damn straight they would". He snorts.»


What does "Damn straight they would" mean? "Sure they did"? Something like that? Or "I was sure they would"? Or "It was better for them that they did so?"


Of course they would. Yes, sure they did because they knew it was better for them that they did so. They knew who had the upper hand in this situation.


Page 40


« "You're not one of the posters!", I said. She wadded up some toilet paper and ran it under the sink tap. "How rude are you? Well, that's how you got here, got news for you!"».


 "Well, that's how you got here": does that mean you were born into the world because I fucked some guy? Or does that mean: you got to sleep in this house instead that in the car because I fucked this guy?


Born into the world because I fucked some guy.





Page 45


«drinking the sour dull fizz from the bottle».


what does "dull" mean, for a beer? bad-tasting? poor quality?


 dull describes the fizz - like describing the way beer is slightly carbonated. So maybe flat


«He carries me to the car, where I fall against the wall waiting for him to unlock the door»


"Carries" means the man is carrying him in his arms?


Yes, carries in his arms.


The child falls against the wall of the house waiting for the man to unlock the door of the house, or against the side of the car waiting for him to unlock the car door?


Falls against the house, waiting for him to unlock the car door.





Page 81


«"He won't fuck with me", she slurs. She pulls me down the stairs with her. "I got it over him". [...] "So fuckin easy... told ya he wouldn't fuck with me". She drums on the wide dash. "Not with what I got over him". I keep wanting to ask what, but I can only turn...»


What does "to get something over somebody" mean?


To have information on somebody that he/she does not want made public. Kind of like having information you could use as blackmail if you had to.


Page 89


«My momma's a toss-up, you know, hubba».


What does "hubba" mean?


Crack Whore. To be a prostitute addicted to the drug crack.


«"Lizards? My momma was worried about Kenny doin' lizards".

"Well, she should be at this truck stop". She swallows. "They don't stop for nobody, most ignore the signs, not me. They don't want me, I ain't a-knockin '".


"They don't stop for nobody": does that mean truckers stopping here aren't looking for lizards, they want to be left alone?


"They don't stop for nobody" means the lizards don't stop for nobody. That nothing will prevent a lizard from trying to get business even if the truckers have signs on their trucks that say they are not interested. They knock on the truck driver’s doors no matter what.


Page 90


«Now a sign is... OK... hole up».


What does "hole up" mean?


 Slang for "hold up" or wait!


Page 91


«A sign at the entrance says "Truckers", and an arrow beneath it points one way, then "Everyone Else" points the other way. We head opposite "Truckers"».


Does that mean they go where the "Trucker" arrow points, or where the "Everyone Else" points?


Where "everyone else" points.


Page 94


«"Milkshake here for R'n'R, over".

"Calf Roper here, darlin', where ya wanna take it?", he says.

"Twenty-eight for my 10-20"».


What does "where ya wanna take it" mean?


Is 28 the price?


28 is slang for tell me what station/frequency you are on and I will give you my 10-20.


For what? What does 10-20 stand for?


10-20 stands for location.


«"Is the pussy free tonight?", a different man says».


"free" as in "not busy" or as in you don't have to pay for it?


He is asking if he does not have to pay for it.  


«"Milkshake, you need help with that cradle robber?", a woman asks.

"Naw, Sweet Lips, I'm gonna rob him all myself. That's a 10-7"».


What does 10-7 mean?


 10-7 is CB radio slang for "leaving the air" or "signing off


Page 102


«It's Kenny, holding me from behind, breathing out in my ear, pressing into me, draping the belt over me»


What does "draping the belt over me" means? "wrapping the belt around me"? "tying me up with the belt"?


The kid has eroticized getting beaten, he equates violence with love. He is imagining Kenny placing the belt around him, like an arm for cuddling.


Page 105


«His hands are pale, and his fingers are long and floppy like daisy stems, not cracked and heavy like Kenny's, not the kind that can crush you quickly if they wanted to, and for some reason that makes me feel hot and cold at the same time they just don't».


"They just don't" do what?


 He is excited by hands that can crush him, that are so powerful, they can crush him, hurt him, but for some reason, they don’t. Kenny and men like him don’t use their big hands to crush him, and he does not understand that.  It excites him.






Page 115


«You find 'em like an old horse finds glue, don't ya?» 


Are "horse" and "glue" to be taken literally, there? Or are they slang words for something else?


 Expression relates to how old horses when they die get sent to glue factories.


«I look up into his big face, long and black bearded exactly like Paul Bunyon»


Who is Paul Bunyon?


 An American folktale about a giant lumberjack. 


Page 129


«Jackson sits in his brown velour easy chair, watching the satellite services live from Sermon Mount»


What is Sermon Mount?


It is just some location where an evangelical Sermon is being broadcast from. 



Page 135


«The white silk folds in the middle of the pastel water look like egg drop soup».


What is egg drop soup? What does it look like?


 Egg drop soup is served in Chinese restaurants. It is a clear broth and egg is dropped into it when it is piping hot and makes ribbons of egg-white in the clear broth.





Page 174


«I climb over the front seat, my stomach sliding on wet piles stuck on my T-shirt»


What does "piles" mean here?


Piles of vomit.  It means a large amount.


Page 175


the "crystal" Sarah and Chester produce in the cellar is something called crystal meth", which is a kind of powdered metamphetamine. Am I right?




Page 194


«They hauled her off middle of the Memorial intersection, stark raving naked...»


"The Memorial intersection" meaning the intersection with a Memorial Avenue, something like that?


 It is just a name of a street. They name a lot of streets Memorial, for its meaning. And I liked that subtlety, of her freaked out on a street named Memorial. 


«Then she disappears into the paper-mirrored doors of the Salvation Army».


What does "paper-mirrored" mean?


There is a kind of wallpaper that is like a mirror. It has a reflective surface.  Stores use it, it is cheaper then mirrors.






Page 202


«I have the luck of Satan on the dollar slots»


"dollar slots" meaning the slot machines?




Page 203


«I imagine the Dart on a runway, sprouting wings and taking off».


What is "the Dart"?


 It is a car model type made by Dodge Motors.  It is an older, bigger car.


«"What?" She looks at me.

"Olive juice", I mouth to her, and close my eyes.

"What did you say?"»


1) Why does Jeremiah say "olive juice"? What does he mean?

2) "I mouth to her" means simply "I said to her"; or "I said to her moving my lips but without letting out any sound"?


 Yes "I mouth to her" means I said to her moving my lips but without letting out any sound. If you mouth the words "olive juice" it looks like you are mouthing the words "I love you"


Page 205


«I hold up a greasy smooshed jelly roll».


What does "smooshed" mean?


 Pressed down, lost its original shape, more flat than round.





Page 220


I've almost finished translating "The Heart is Deceitful Above All

things". the text is pretty clear. but  i stumble on the scene on p. 220-221 with the crank master and the crank house. i'm at a  loss.

please explain what happens there. i don't understand the context.

and please explain: "i nodded at the gore of it. she nodded ..." (what's the nodding in these two cases?).


Crank is speed or crystal meth.  A crank master is the one who makes it and they do it in a crank house.  The process is very dangerous—there is a lot of flammable stuff.  Sarah is saying that the blackjack oak grows where a crank house caught fire and the people who made the crank are stuck in the tree If you’re a girl and rub up against blackjack oak, you’ll never die in a crank house fire.  The tree will protect you.  It’s a superstition.


In the beginning of the passage, Sarah is describing how the different parts of the tree are actually the different parts of the crank makers’ bodies.  That’s why he nods at the gore of it.  He gets it..he understands.  She nods in agreement.






Page 231


«My shadow hits his feet, black in engineer boots».


What are engineer boots?


Heavy industrial boots with a buckle across the ankle.


Page 234


« "No limits for you, right?" His beer clanks on the wooden chair arm. My eyes shift from side to side, back and forth.

"No safe word, right?"».


What does "no safe word" mean?


No word that means to stop. .  In S&M a lot of folks when they “play” the masochist has a “Safe” word. A word that if he/she says it means, STOP! I’ve had enough pain, I cant take any more. The kid has no Safe words, he has no limits, he wants to be pushed beyond his limits.


Page 235


I am now working with the woman proofreading Thidaat and in the last story there is the thing with the "drain". We are a bit, lets say, unexperienced in this field and done really get what it is? So it's hard to translate. I mean I know the word drain as in pipe and such but this is something specific other no?


It is a drain where water can go into....the floor can be hosed down in case there is blood or other bodily fluids.



Page 245


«We should whoop all the shoplifters like him».


What does "whoop" mean here? is it the same as "to whip"?




I look up and see two bag boys, a little older than me, peering in wide-eyed through a broken, small, one-way mirror»


What are "bag boys"?


 In the U.S., grocery stores have folks, usually boys, that put your groceries in a bag for you after the cashier rings them up, as a service, instead of the customer having to bag their own groceries.