Friday, March 23, 2012

Who is Dorfman's neighbor?

“The neighbor behind Dorfman was a widower with cats, but no dogs. The plan was to access his property from her backyard.”

So, is the neighbor behind Dorfman a man or a woman?

I was reading American Assassin by Vince Flynn when I was stopped cold by those two lines. They started at the end of a right hand page and finished on the following left hand page. I flipped back and forth a couple of times to verify that I had read it correctly. I had.

With all the “Instant Reporting” we get on the Internet poor grammar has flourished. How many times a day do you see the the repeated article the? We excuse it saying the writers are in a hurry, and we understand. Really it’s about what program are you writing in. I’m using Word right now and that repeat is hi-lighted. The same happens in Open Office. But on Blogger it is missed. I don’t have Word Press up and running but I am assuming it misses the repeat also.

But this was not an Internet article, tweet or blog I was reading. This was a hardback novel published by Simone and Schuster. And it wasn’t the only error. It was just the one that made me talk about the problem. Word and Open Office did not find that noun-pronoun disagreement. I wonder if the publisher doesn’t have software that would check for that type error. If so, they didn’t use it did they? What happened to the line editor? That position was probably downsized during the recession. Everything gets blamed on the recession.

How does one address the issue? Well, I assumed that Simon and Schuster would care less about what I thought. The author, Vince Flynn, may not be involved with the editing; he’s busy working on his next book. And he might take my comments personally. Maybe Flynn’s agent, Sloan Harris, would listen.

I couldn’t find an email address for Mr. Harris. (I’m way too busy to write and mail an actual letter to him.)

Now Mr. Flynn does have a comment page on his web site so I went there and commented on the line editing in American Assassin. It was an action and allowed me to move on with my life.

I know it looks like I decided to slough off the error just like everyone else seems to have done. But this is America and I have decided to ply capitalist pressures on Mr. Flynn, Mr. Harris, Mr. Simon and Mr. Schuster. I am not reading another thing by Mr. Flynn, nor viewing the American Assassin movie when it is released until I find out the true gender of Mr. Dorfman’s neighbor. And I encourage you to do the same.

George Parker

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