Friday, April 09, 2004

We've all been there

Media Bistro has an excerpt from "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" here.
At The Listener, where I was literary editor from 1986 to 1990, I discovered that any efforts I made to streamline the prose on my pages would always be challenged by one particular sub-editor, who would proof-read my book reviews and archly insert literally dozens of little commas-each one of which I felt as a dart in my flesh. Of course, I never revealed the annoyance she caused. I would thank her, glance at the blizzard of marks on the galley proof, wait for her to leave the room, and then (standing up to get a better run at it) attack the proof, feverishly crossing out everything she had added, and writing "STET", "STET", "STET", "STET", "STET" all down the page, until my arm got tired and I was spent. And don't forget: this comma contention was not a matter of right or wrong. It was just a matter of taste.
She also includes two of her favorite comics. One's pretty good:
The first shows a row of ten Roman soldiers, one of them prone on the ground, with the cheerful caption (from a survivor of the cull), "Hey, this decimation isn't as bad as they say it is!"
There's a lot more; it's a long excerpt. And I noticed Britishisms (cancelled, the classic was stood mistake) intact, but punctuation is American. This tempers my excitement for the book. Again. I'm so up and down on this.


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