Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Copy editor wonted? Or is it kneaded?

I don’t exactly know the difference between a copy editor and a proofreader, but I just googled “copy editor” and something called indeed.com tells me that there are 54 copy editor positions available in Boston. LinkedIn has a far more conservative number: 5. But glassdoor says there are 316 of them out there.

Maybe there’s no one to fill these jobs. Or maybe they don’t really exist. All I know is that I seem to be finding a lot more errors in books, mags, and newspapers these days.

Given that Pink Slip is riddled with typos and spellos, you may be thinking ‘she’s a good one to talk.’ But here’s my excuse: This is a blog. It’s a daily blog. It’s my hobby. It’s not monetized, and ain’t no one paying to read it.

On the other hand, when I pay for a book, I expect that some copy editor or proofreader would have caught some pretty obvious mistakes.

Take Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run. I bought it at my local indie bookstore, and I think I paid about thirty bucks for it. It was beyond my expectations good. Sure, some of the fine points about musicianship gave made my eyes glaze over. (I was going to write “brought on MEGO, but I didn’t want to use all caps, given what I planned to write in the next sentence.) And there were a few too many places where he USED ALL CAPS TO MAKE HIS POINT!!! And a lot of exclamation points!!!!

But the boy can write, and the book is fascinating – even to someone like me who, while a fan, is not a FAN!!!!

For thirty bucks, I would think that someone at Simon and Schuster might have picked up on “marshall music”. Is that marshall music as in Marshall Dillon? Or does he really mean “martial music”? I’m not blaming the author here. I think he wrote in long hand, and then had this words transcribed (and, presumably, edited at some point). He may well have written “marshall music”. I understand perfectly, as when I write or type, I often goof up on homonyms. Thus I “no something” when I mean I “know something.” I “whale” instead of “wail.” It happens. But a copy editor should find that type of error, no? (Know?)

I also found a more subtle mistake. In recounting a trip made to East Berlin before The Wall fell, Springsteen talks about the Stasis. Only what’s on the page is “stasis.” Yes, there was bad stasis in East Berlin, but the real problem in Berlin was bad Stasis. (The Stasi were the Cold War version of the Gestapo, and a goodly portion of the East German population were informers for them.)

Then I was reading Wicked Pissed, by Ted Reinstein, a fun book about local stuff of local interest written by a local TV guy and published by a regional press. So I wouldn’t expect it to have gotten the editorial scrutiny that, say, the best seller of a music god (or demi-god), brought out by a major publisher (Simon and Schuster), would have gotten.

Still, when I read that Pierre Salinger was among the literary icons who had made their homes in New England, I did a spit take.

I guess you could call Pierre Salinger – JFK’s cigar chomping press secretary – an author, as he did write a number of books (memoir, JFK recollections, political works), but I wouldn’t exactly categorize him as a literary icon. And, despite the JFK connection, I don’t believe he ever made New England his home.

So I do believe that the person Reinstein meant to add to his list was J.D. Salinger, a literary icon indeed, and one who spent a goodly part of his life as a recluse in New Hampshire.

Anyway, this is the kind of stuff that tends to drive me nuts. And ewe you?

With best regards, Ginger Rogers

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