December QSO contained a comment on this debate so, somewhat belatedly, a pennyworth…
You (PCCragg) raise an interesting point. There is every expectation that a book or newspaper will be perfectly produced with no spelling mistakes, grammatical hiccups or dangling participles. When Far East publishers print on demand out of copyright books by using optical character recognition without any proof reading, the resulting mess is so bad that the book ends up being hurled across the room in fury. No one should have to pay for such rubbish.
As one poster has said, this is about “media and content” or, in the lawyers’ wording : form (the copy-editors job) and substance (the general-editor’s job). These editors thought of themselves as copy-editors only. Fair enough.
If TLSF2 is simply a scanned, reformatted copy of the original author’s contribution, warts and all, then it is probably more valuable as a historical record un-edited. Whether it is more enjoyable because the un-edited contributions are thus individual and genuine, albeit rough in patches, is certainly debatable but may come down to taste; in the end, form should follow function.
For example, on the one hand, Somerset Maugham’s three volume travel Short Stories are beautifully and correctly written and highly evocative of long-lost colonial and plantation life. On the other hand, Shakespeare could not, or more accurately, did not spell and…shock-horror, he actually used a split infinitive. Yet his work has, for some unfathomable reason, been richly praised despite these shortcomings.
It is very kind of you to have read so far because now comes the bit that makes me feel better. All editors should be hung, drawn, quartered, boiled in oil and have their internals devoured by maddened scorpions and giant squids before being flogged eternally by dead authors. Yes, an editor of a small amateur radio club’s newspaper has so mashed two articles that they descend beyond mediocrity into boring. The originals, which I have read, were bright, original and of interest. So be careful what you wish for; a general/copy editor may produce perfect English yet ruin completely the article.
I will keep TLSF2 for a rainy day knowing, from TLSF1, that the urge to hurl the book across the room will be tempered by its abiding fascination. All editors are dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t, so there is justice out there after all.
I’ve just started reading my copy of TLSF2. As ever, the stories are descriptive, full of interest and humour and truly evocative of the era. All the more interesting to me as although I did my PMG in the late 1950s I never went to sea, and find it fascinating to realise what I missed ‒ good and bad.
However, I have a problem.
I know this isn’t going to make me popular but as a proofreader (retired) with professional qualifications, I am appalled by the poor punctuation, grammar and syntax. I lost count of the number of sentences that aren’t properly constructed, commas missing, dangling participles, comma splices, typos ‒ the list goes on.
I know I’ll be accused of pedantry, but it’s important to keep up standards and I would have expected better from an organisation for whose members accuracy was paramount in their professional lives. It’s all the more disappointing as we were told that one of the reasons for any delay in publication was down to the time taken for proofreading.
And I’ve only read six pages so far…
As one of the three Editor’s involved in this project I feel it is down to me to reply to this comment. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion on the book and how it is constructed, and proof read, but at his stage after the first week of publication yours is the only negative voice in an overwhelming flood of positive comment from other members – far more than for the first book.
The decision was taken at a very early stage with this book that we would not alter the context of member’s stories from that as originally published in QSO x years ago. The reasons for this were simple (a) it would have been a gigantic task as you allude to (b) not all members are as literate as others and we did not feel it was our position to alter the story and perhaps the meaning of the story by making changes (c) to make any substantive changes to any story requires us to contact the member and this can be difficult and we had more than enough problems as it was. One story in particular was altered as there were numerous references to WW2 addresses, names and ranks etc. which have no relevance today. This is clearly mentioned within the story.
The book was in fact not delayed in publication but arrived about 3 months earlier than planned. The majority of the time taken in editing the book was fourfold (a) correcting the scans of old documents where we did not have an electronic version of the original story, a 0 for an O being a very common one (b) correcting the almost innumerable spacing and tabbing errors caused by our electronic material being set up on 6 different computers and God knows how many versions of MS Word (c) correcting plainly obvious errors like double full stops, highlighting titles amongst others and perhaps the hardest of the lot (d) actually choosing which stories to publish and which to cull.
I am sorry you are disappointed with our standards as we want everyone to be happy with the book. The Treasurer is currently on holiday but when he returns I will arrange for your purchase price to be refunded.
Yes Tony, I too have a problem with the 376 pages between the covers of the second volume of The Long Silence Falls. I go to bed, think I will treat myself to just one story, then perhaps one more and before I realise it the clock reminds me the 0400 watch is coming up ! This ignorant reader has not noticed, or more importantly, been troubled by any perceived errors in the text. To borrow (and reverse) a phrase from my days working in higher education it is perhaps a case of “the content hiding the media”. Such is the power of the magic carpet this book contains for evoking memories.
So, from me and I suspect many others, a heartfelt thanks for the work and time given by yourself and the many other unpaid/unsung people that make the ROA the success it is.
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