Thursday, March 8, 2012

Readers’ Aid

Charlie Stella (Johnny Porno, Mafiya, Rough Riders coming in July) isn’t just a kick-ass writer; he’s a friend to any writer he comes in contact with. He tirelessly promotes other writers on his blog, and has been more than generous to me, both with support and spot-on advice.

Charlie has a problem with Worst Enemies: the names. Not the title; the characters’ names.  “I can’t pronounce the names in my head,” he said after reading a draft. “Isn’t anyone named Smith in this town?” (There is in the final version, just for Charlie.)

Penns River exists—as much as it exists at all—in Western Pennsylvania, up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. It’s a heavily ethnic area: Italian, German, Irish, and Eastern Europeans of all heritages: Polish, Croatian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Slovak. Names that stymied Charlie roll off the tongues of locals like Henry Higgins reading Doctor Seuss.

I would, however, like for people who did not grow up in the area to have a fighting chance. So, to enhance your reading entertainment, here is a pronunciation key for some of the characters' names that may be less than intuitive:

Dougherty – DOCK-ur-dee

Dolewicz – DOLE-uh-wits

Faison – FAE-zahn

Frantz – France

Grabek – GRAY-beck

Mannarino- man-uh-REE-no

Napierkowski – napper-KOW-ski

Neuschwander – NOO-shwan-der

Orszulak – OR-suh-lak

Pranewicz – Puh-RAN-uh-wits

Wierzbicki – weerz-BICK-ee

Schoepf – Sheff

Zywiciel – suh-WISS-ee-ul

It’s not as hard as Dostoevsky, but there ain’t no Muffys or Biffs in Penns River.

1 comment:

Charlieopera said...

No way Schoepf = Sheff

He's Shemp in my head now.

Bottom line, the book is terrific, which is all that really counts.