Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Careless editors


ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLACES is the local lending library.

I've been a library fan since first grade at Benjamin Harrison PS #2 in Indianapolis IN. The main library still is where is was back in 1949, but PS #2 has been torn down and replaced with a smaller school - or perhaps the size difference is just the different perspectives - a first grader vs. a not-getting-any-younger adult.

Anyway, being retired I read a lot of books, typically 5 or 6 a week.

More and more I encounter sloppy editing and, in at least one author's case, an "I don't care if it's wrong" attitude.

I just finished a good yarn; not great since I could, and did, put it down from time to time to do other retiree things. The action took place from World War 2 and continued for perhaps 20 years.

After setting the stage, there were no other identifiable dates in the novel.

Toward the end of the story there are several occasions when Our Hero encounters cops with flashing red and blue lights on their vehicles.

What's wrong with that?

Until recently, the only "blue light special" was at Kmart; emergency vehicles used red lights only; "gum ball machines" mounted on the vehicle roof or, in the case of California cops - and perhaps others - a red lens over the car's spotlight.

I've lived all over the U.S. and until about 1970 or 1980, all emergency lights were red.

But this author/editor combo had red-and-blue flashing lights on emergency vehicles well before then. (The scenes were in rural Texas and the cops were the county variety.)

The author of the "I don't care" book wrote that the university from which my #1 son graduated was situated, by the author, roughly 300 miles from its actual location. I once lived near the school and I now live where the author incorrectly placed the school. (She got suckered by the school's name, a true misnomer. Still, if the author failed to know where the school is located, the editor should have done some basic fact checking.)

I'm not writing that over my years as a reporter I never made a mistake, but I was blessed with editors who caught most of the errors and "encouraged" me to go back and check what I thought were facts.

On the bright side, not only do I read the books for pleasure, I get double the fun finding obvious errors.

I truly love the my local lending library.

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