Where Have All the Editors Gone?

 

I have finished reading Where the River Ends by Charles Martin.  I’m afraid that I have now read every novel that he has written.  Sniff.  It is such a rare joy for me to discover a wonderful author that I haven’t yet read.  But now I am finished.  Sigh.

 

{EXCITING BREAKING NEWS::  Charles Martin has recently released a new book!} 

{not-so-exciting news::  our library doesn’t have it yet} 

{Better News::  Surely I can get it on Inter-Library Loan}

 

Anyway, this was not my point.  I got a bit carried away.  But while I’m on the subject, if you haven’t read anything by Charles Martin yet, do so.  Prepare to be amazed.  The way he uses words is positively magical, and his stories are wonderful.

Oh, yes.  The point.  I noticed during my reading of this book (which is not his best, in my opinion, but still very good.  You should definitely read Chasing Fireflies if you’re only going to read one of his books.  But why would you only read one?  You should really read them all.)

Um…yes…  I was saying that  I noticed while reading that it was poorly edited.  Thankfully, this hasn’t been an issue with his other books, because it really irritates me.  At least three times, possibly four (I can’t remember for sure) the word “who’s” was used in place of “whose.”  Really?  Once, maybe I can pardon.  Twice, barely possible.  But more than that?  I think not.  It seems to me that we have here an editor who honestly does not know that “who’s” is a contraction meaning “who is” and it is NOT A POSSESSIVE PRONOUN.  Editors are supposed to know these things.

There.  I got that out of my system.  I think. 

 

But then last night I read a book called Double Exposure by Michael Lister.  Not to be confused with about thirty other books by that name, many of which are probably not fit for human consumption.

It was an interesting book.  It has a great beginning hook.  A wildlife photographer who sets motion-activated camera traps in remote areas inadvertently captures a murder on his memory card.  Even more unfortunately, when he goes to retrieve his pictures, the murderer is still nearby, figures out what happened, and the chase is on.  It’s a great idea, a good story, but written in a very unusual way.

I didn’t actually count, but I would guess that the book contains more sentence fragments than it does actual sentences.  Now this can be quite effective to set a mood, especially one of shock and confusion like the photographer is facing.  For instance, when he looks at his photos, here is the description:

 

Soft, diffused light.  Liquor-like glow.

Late afternoon.

Humans.

Shock.

Murder.

Handgun.  Close range.  Blood spray.  Collapse.

Shovel.  Dig.  Dirt.  Bury.  Cover.

Nausea.

Clammy skin.  Cold Sweat.

 

It reminds me more of a poem than a story.  And yes, all those quick impressions can work well.  But after pages and pages of this, I started wishing for more real honest-to goodness sentences, instead of this:

 

Cold.

Hungry.

Tired.

Lost.

Lonely.

Afraid.

 

I mean… really.  It doesn’t take that much talent to simply line up a firing squad of adjectives.  Don’t get me wrong, there were also lots of good sentences in the book.  And it wasn’t really a bad style–just different.  It’s a good technique, but seriously over-used in this book.  In my opinion, of course.

 

And it really has nothing to do with poor editing, which was, I believe, what I originally set out to discuss.  So what was the thing that really drove me nuts about this book?  There were NO quotation marks!  During the course of this nightmare run for his life, there are quite a few conversations, some that the man overhears from his pursuers and some within his head, and none of those are graced with quotation marks.  Instead, there are dashes, like this:

–I got ‘im.  I got ‘im.

–Where?

–Don’t move.  Put your hands up where I can see ‘em.

–Which one?  Remington asks.  Can’t do both.

–Jackson?

–Yeah.

–You got him?

 

I have to wonder….WHY???  It seems to me that we have a perfectly good item of punctuation called the quotation mark which makes it very clear what is being said and what isn’t.  Why not just use it??

One review described his writing style as “minimalist.”  Okay, fine, but I do hope that the exclusion of proper punctuation does not become stylish, because it really irks me.

And now THAT is out of my system.  Thank you very much.  Have a good day.

 

 

 

 

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About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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6 Responses to Where Have All the Editors Gone?

  1. fwren says:

    Are you SERIOUS?  He has a new book out?  Title please!!!???

  2. homefire says:

    Well, it looks like it came out in June, so maybe you’ve already read it, but I didn’t know.  The Mountain Between Us.  http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Between-Us-Novel/dp/0767927028/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1321792642&sr=8-3

  3. fwren says:

    Yeah ~ I’ve read it ~ it’s a great one too!  I think his next book is due out next spring.

  4. kurtandrita says:

    Good.Insightful.Well articulated.Bravo.–You wrote this well, Rita said admirably.

  5. homefire says:

    @kurtandrita – You are funny!  And how amazing that I happened to come here on the exact day you commented.  🙂

  6. mcbery says:

    I guess that kind of book is written for folks on the go with not much time?  Just stopping in to wish you a wonderful Christmas season with lots of love and good things on your plate in the New Year.

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