Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Shut ‘Er Down

Within five pages I closed up the book, set it aside and counted it a wasted 25 bucks!
by Charlie Leck

As I sipped on my first cup of coffee in the quiet of a weekend morning, I began reading a novel by a successful writer. It was published by Simon and Schuster. In the prologue, within the first five written pages, I came upon the following sentence.

“Brown’s wild, windblown hair and gray wiry beard, speckled with specks of blood, framed a expression that was both cold and haunting.” [sic]
No typos in the above, replicated sentence. That is exactly as it was printed on the page of the novel.

“Do I want to continue reading this?” That’s the question I quietly asked myself. What happened to the Simon & Schuster editor? Why weren’t these lapses and errors caught? What’s going on here? I paid $24 for this book and I expect more.

The gentleman’s beard was speckled with specks of blood! Amazing! It was “speckled with specks.” What else? Would it be speckled with long, smooth, curvaceous stripes of blood? If it is speckled, we expect that there would be specks.

The editor should have made the following change: “…speckled with blood…” Now that is plain and simple and accurate and readable.

Then we learn that the gentleman’s hair and beard framed “a” expression… Ooops! An editor slipped up again. How about his hair and beard framing “an” expression…?

It’s discouraging! Should I go on? What’s your opinion? I set the book aside and went to the shelves to find something else more worthy of my time. Too bad! Harold Coyle is supposed to be an awfully good writer. Simon and Schuster is a top-notch publishing house.

Yup! I just decided to look away. Too bad!

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