Fire the Editor

The novel: Another Thing to Fall
The author: Laura Lippman – who who sells a lot of books. (Way more than me, for sure. That’s not the point here. The point is, to strike a blow for literacy and so on.)

The contested passage:
“While movies weren’t as magical to her as they had been, back in her late teens and twenties, she still wanted to be able to suspend belief, not think about all the ways she was being fooled.”

The problem:
No no no! It is DISbelief that must be suspended. “Willing suspension of disbelief” is what Coleridge suggested that a reader bring to a work of fiction.

The novel: Where the Dead Lay
The author: David Levien

The contested passage:
“Lake Monroe glittered like a handful of uncut diamonds had been thrown down on its surface.”

The problem: Wasn’t there a news story, a few years back, about how one of the world’s biggest diamonds was found by the side of a road, looking like a regular old rock? Diamonds have to be cut and polished, don’t they? Do uncut diamonds glitter? Really?

The website: Broowaha

The author: don’t care

The contested passage:
“Making way through the more desirably labeled, Central City East neighborhood isn’t an easy task. Each step brings a distinctive experience, ranging from open sexual activity to public deification and urination.”

The problem:
Yes, there is such a thing as “public deification.” Someone, or some thing, can be made a god of, in public. But the phrase is not generally paired with “public urination.” For those of you who haven’t had your coffee yet, the word this writer was groping for is “defecation” which means taking a dump.

The novel: The Third Secret
The author: Steve Berry

The contested passage:
“Passion, Tom. That’s what moves revolt. Deep, unabiding passion.”

The problem:
To abide is to stay. Unabiding = not staying. Unabiding is passing, transitory, ephemeral, temporary, impermanent… got it? I am 100% certain that what the author, or the author’s character, meant to say was “Deep, abiding passion.” Or perhaps, “Deep, unabating passion.” Why didn’t somebody catch this?

The novel: forgot to note the title
The author: likewise

The contested passage:
“To him, he was fulfilling a need desperate people could not find anywhere else.”

The problem:
Yeah, I get what the sentence is trying to say, but it really could use a do-over. The way this thing is constructed, what it’s really saying is that desperate people could not find the NEED anywhere else. Which is nonsense.

The interview: at the end of the audio book version of a Harlan Coben novel, someone named Denise whose last name I can’t find, interviews the author.

The contested passage:
She asks whether the character Eric Wu will appear in another novel, and I didn’t write it all down, but one of her comments was, “something… something… unless he comes back in the guise of a masseuse.”

The problem:
Eric Wu is a professional assassin with multiple tattoos and piercings, who can paralyze or kill with his bare hands. In one of the novels, a cop says of Wu, “If ten per cent of the rumors about this guy are true, I’m sleeping with my Barney the Dinosaur night-light on.” The author was polite enough to not make an issue of this with the interviewer. But could Eric Wu possibly assume the guise of a masseuse, which is a woman who gives massages? Granted, he is described as having bleached blond hair. But still. I’m afraid this interviewer is one of the many people who are not aware that “masseuse” is feminine and “masseur” is the masculine form. In fact, I have heard the term “male masseuse” which has to be one of the stupidest things…. Google gives 63,000 instances of it. Sigh.

About Pat Hartman

Before publishing the two books "Call Someplace Paradise" and "Ghost Town: A Venice California Life", my main project was "Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics. " I wrote extensively for "Scene," a monthly arts and entertainment magazine with a circulation of 25,000. Also proofread, sold ads, put together the music calendar and, for a couple of years, served as editor. Presided over a couple issues of the local NORML newsletter, as well as being featured speaker at chapter meetings. Wrote a complete screenplay; collaborated on another one; worked on a couple of scripts (additional dialog and general brainstorming) with an indie film producer. Booked the talent for a large music festival. Wrote, designed, illustrated and produced various catalogs and brochures for small businesses. Spoke at a high school as a panelist on Women in the Professions; was a featured speaker at the 1991 Women in Libertarianism Conference; presented public programs on "Success in One Lesson" and "The Bloomsbury Group: What's It To Us?" Created the website and wrote many politically-oriented pieces for
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