Thursday, August 09, 2012

I'm mad as hell ...

I generally strive to subordinate my own concerns to the greater good, to prize cooperation above all else, and never to complain, no matter how severe the provocation.

But not today. I'm in a post-Vázquez Montalbán lull, looking for a new book to read, scrounging chapters here, a short story there, seeking the next big thing that will make life worth living and books worth reading, and I came upon one story that contained not only
"I left the knife where it was, assuming that it would bare some DNA traces of whoever had killed the girl ..."
but also
"... a busload of tourists were mulling around the hat and hippie shops ..."
Damned highlighting is mine.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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14 Comments:

Anonymous Linkmeister said...

Mad as hell indeed. I hold you blameless for your ire.

August 09, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Editing gets it from all sides. Traditional publishers and newspapers cut back, small or self-publishers don't want to spend the money, and state the obvious truth that copy editing doesn't matter, and you get shouted down.

August 09, 2012  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Ouch. Those are really painful. I'm surprised the author didn't catch them upon revision, much less the editor.

August 09, 2012  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

I still think real grammar/diction errors are much worse. Generally they mean neither author nor copy-editor knew better. I give you, for example, the ubiquitous "lay" which should have been "lie."

August 09, 2012  
Blogger C.B. James said...

I like the "mulling" error. Does it imply the tourists are cooking over a low heat like mulled wine or that spices are being added to them to make them a bit tastier.

I went to an author reading once where the author read pencil in hand to correct mistakes he saw in his published work.

Mistakes do get by even the most diligent editors, but those two are the result of over-reliance on spell check and grammar check programs. Neither is misspelled and both are correct syntax, so the program failed to correct them.

August 09, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, any writer, me included, can be sloppy, can be deficient in his knowledge of grammar or spelling, or can just be having a bad day. Editors are there to catch the results before they reach print. That's why a de-emphasis on final editing is so dangerous and its results so predictable.

August 09, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

C.B., "mull" is a favorite word of headline writers, at least in the U.S., in its meaning of "to think over carefully." "Council mulls tax hike" is a lot easier to squeeze into one column than "Council considers tax increase." Perhaps these tourists were carefully considering possible courses of action before they made their purchases.

Mistakes do indeed get by even the most diigent editors, but too many publications are not getting the most diligent editing.

August 09, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., errors of ignorance may indeed be worse than errors that result inevitably from a deliberate lack of attention to editing, but that's a separate question. When ignorance meets lack of editing, though, the results can be spectacular.

August 09, 2012  
Anonymous Linkmeister said...

The first error is one of the dreaded homophones; that make it a slightly more honest mistake in my mind than the second one, which is just plain stupid.

August 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Honest but careless. I'll sometimes reread a sentence, only to find I've written "there" for "their," or something equally dreadul. We think ahead as we write, and, if a sound is in our minds, and we're momentarily distracted when we begin to typw that sound, such errors can and will occur. Such a distraction may have been responsible for the writer's having confused "mulled" and "milled." But that's not the subject of my post. Rather, my concern is the lack of editing that let the error be published.

I'm less forgiving of the first mistake, not more. Because homophones are easily confused, writers and editors should be especially careful when using them and when reading and rereading their work and that of others.

August 10, 2012  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

A copyeditor's work is never done!

What about poor translations? Translating into English with an adjective after a noun? Or forgetting about a key word: the.

Or -- and I just found this in a current book by a top Canadian mystery writer. A name is spelled one way for a chapter -- a simple name -- and then on one page it's spelled differently!

I couldn't believe it. Didn't the author notice that more or less a copyeditor? That chapter also had other problems. But a top publisher. I was shocked.

As you were saying, not enough editing, copyediting or proofreading.

August 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, I made a post a few months ago that suggested an otherwise good translator could be at the same time a poor writer. The occasion was some deadly, flat prose, along with a mistake or two, in an otherwise good novel called 1222 by the Norwegian writer Anne Holt.

Detailed editing is one of the first things to go when it comes time to make cuts. It leads me to alter that old car-commecial slogan and make it: "Quality is Job 174."

August 10, 2012  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I read 1222 and liked it. Right now I'm reading number one in the Hanne Wilhelmson series by Anne Holt, Blind Goddess.

It is so well written that one can barely put it down. Good character development and plot.

Yes, more and more mistakes in editing. It aggravates me when it's in works published by a big publishing company, which should have staff doing the work to perfect a book.

August 11, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, here’s the post I made about slack prose in 1222. The problem was so prevalent and so obvious that I more than half suspect it was due to some attempt to render into English some untranslatable feature of Holt’s Norwegian prose.

August 11, 2012  

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