December 6, 2003

proof it

I'm about 120 pages into William Vollmann's Rising Up and Rising Down, and it's completely astonishing. It's also, so far, maybe the worst-proofread major book I've ever read. Someone please supply the missing punctuation and/or words from this passage, on pg. 106 of Volume MC (in the section headed WHEN IS VIOLENT DEFENSE OF REVOLUTIONARY AUTHORITY UNJUSTIFIED?):

"2. When its ends rather then mere military cut off subjects and bystanders cut themselves off from their ordinary attachments.
EXAMPLE: the Khmer Rouge."

Actually, here's a little contest: whoever suggests the most entertaining (and sense-making) additions of punctuation and/or words to this passage, and posts them in the comments here, wins a prize--a mix CD, let's say. Please note that the fifth word in the passage is "then" rather than "than"; for the sake of the contest, let's assume it's intentional.

(I've met the guy who proofread parts of it, and like him a bunch, and am assuming that he's not the one who proofread the part I've read so far.)

Posted by Douglas at December 6, 2003 3:12 PM
Comments

That might set a record, but it's a close one; I think it's symptomatic of broader trouble. Someone who's been around for a while (possibly the now-deceased Hugh Kenner?) once claimed that Canadian newspapers went sharply downhill in the proofreading dept. due to a drop in the supply of retired ministers, who used to proof regional newspapers for peanuts. Is the likely decline in trade publishers' proofreading (and in their copyediting!) due to (a) decline in supply of people who'll do it for peanuts, (b) less verbal, more visual culture, even at publishing houses, or (c) budget cuts at trade publishers meaning there's less and less $ to pay people to do anything that's not directly revenue-producing? I pick (c). Who would actually know?

Posted by: steve on December 6, 2003 3:46 PM

"2. When wit ends Dan Rather, then mere military men cut off subjects’ and bystanders’ (ahem) attachments.
EXAMPLE: the Khmer Rouge."

uh.... i just wanted a copy of monsignor monsoon (who knew about those breeders, d? who didja think :)?! )

xo/jess

Posted by: jess on December 6, 2003 10:01 PM

This isn't an actual comment on what you wrote here, so I hope you'll forgive the intrusion. My sister Maggi recently read a review of a children's album that bore the byline "Douglas Wolk," and she wrote to me and said: "Hey, do you think that's the Douglas Wolk we went to school with?" I had a look at the site, and then did a google search on your name, and responded with: "Almost certainly." :-)

If you *are* you, then you once knew me as Jennie Rohde. If you're not you, then you're someone else. But of course you're YOU, even if that YOU is someone else. Okay, I'll quit while I'm at least somewhat ahead ...

Posted by: Jennie Dailey-O'Cain on December 10, 2003 8:38 AM
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