Monday, August 08, 2016

To Err

I often notice mistakes in books.  I wish I didn't. It distracts from the reading experience and also makes you wonder if you can rely on the material you know less about.  Here are a couple recent examples.

--In a book about cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman, it's noted growing up he was a big fan of the Marx Brothers.  Their five Paramount films are listed, including "Coconuts."  Except the film is titled The Cocoanuts.  An understandable error, since the word is rarely spelled with an "a" these days, but still it gives one pause.

--In a book on director Blake Edwards, it's noted he and Peter Sellers got back together after their successful Pink Panther films to make The Party in 1968, since both were on losing streaks.  What's the author's evidence that Sellers career was in trouble?  He lists What's New Pussycat? and Casino Royale.  But What's New Pussycat? was a huge hit, one of the biggest comedies of 1965.  And Casino Royale, though a huge mess that Sellers walked out on, was a big hit in 1967.  So why would the author give these two titles as examples of Sellers failing career?

Of course, there is a pattern.  The authors, presumably, spent a lot of time researching their subject, but a lot less on tangential issues--Marx Brothers titles in a Kurtzman bio or Seller's non-Blake Edwards films in an Edwards bio.  It may be no excuse, but it's an explanation.

Still, someone should have caught them.  Isn't this what editors are for?


Blogger New England Guy said...

I will actually guess that the editors are the one to blame for the Cocoanuts mistake. I tend to think proofreaders and editors (the ones who do proofreading at least) tend to be youngsters just out of school and think they know it all and have ignorance/disdain for more recent archaisms (i.e. those of their parents' generation).

Just a hypothesis and a chance to insult editors

6:26 AM, August 08, 2016  

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