At once one of the funniest and most depressing novels ever set in my beloved Montreal, The Luck of Ginger Coffey is a favourite. I expect I've seen three or four dozen cover treatments over the years, but the one gracing this German translation, happened upon this past weekend, really caught my eye. More than anything, I was reminded of a travel poster… and, as it turns out, it was copped and cropped from just that.
Published in 1994, Diogenes' Ginger Coffey sucht seine Glück has the only cover I know that focusses on the protagonist's status as an immigrant. Nothing wrong with that, except that Moore never tells us just how Ginger, wife Veronica and daughter Paulie arrived in Canada. We know that they left Ireland by ship. I guess it's possible that they disembarked in New York. Could be that they then caught a train to Montreal. What I can say for certain is that the Coffeys wouldn't have sailed on the Normandie; it was scrapped in 1946.
I'd planned to make this post about the use of the word "ship" in the novel – It appears fourteen times. How interesting is that! – but the cover drew my attention to the many German-language editions of Moore's novels. I had no idea.
the Bantam I Am Mary Dunne appear very tame indeed.
And just look at the hot goings on Büchergemeinschafts-Lizenzausg promises with its 1978 edition of Die frau des arztes (The Doctor's Wife).
Sex sells, of course, which explains Diogenes' 1987 Schwarzrock (Black Robe), suggesting a tale of sapphic love set amongst the 17th-century Algonquins.
The publisher is much more honest with its current edition, though I hasten to point out that the men depicted are Abenaki.
Intentional or not, Diogenes seems particularly adept at choosing misleading images. Here it sells a translation of An Answer from Limbo as Die Antwort der Hölle – The Answer from Hell – slapping on a darkened image of René Magritte's Homage to Mack Sennett; in effect transforming protagonist Brendan Tierney into Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb.
The publisher has a curious habit of choosing highly recognizable late-19th-century women as stand-ins for mid-20th-century characters. Its cover for Ich bin Mary Dunne casts Madelaine Bernard in the lead, as captured in Gaugin's Portrait of Madelaine Bernard.
Saturnischer Tanz, Malte Krutzsch's translation of The Feast of Lupercal, uses Manet's Irma Brunner to depict "boyish, unfinished" Belfast lass Una Clarke.
Dillon, Der Eiscremekönig and Die Versuchung der Eileen Hughes use equally odd details from Edward Hopper paintings. Still, I could match them with their English titles, despite my non-existent German. The one that threw me was Strandgeburtstag, which uses David Hockney's Beach Umbrella.
Google translate comes up with "Beach Party".
Turns out to be Fergus.
Well, Fergus Fadden does live in Malibu.
The first paragraph of The Luck of Ginger Coffey:
Fifteen dollars and three cents. He counted it and put it in his trouser-pocket. Then picked his Tyrolean hat off the dresser, wondering if the two Alpine buttons and the little brush dingus in the hatband weren't a shade jaunty for the place he was going. Still, they might be lucky to him. And it was a lovely morning, clear and crisp and clean. Maybe that was a good augury. Maybe today his ship would come in.