Sunday, 31 August 2008

Risks and type

Anne Fadiman is a wonderfully perceptive reader and she throws up lots of risks which attentive proof readers salivate over, some of which have serious consequences. In no particular order:

* misplaced apostrophes and spaces- my example would be man's laughter or manslaughter.
* misspellings as in the opening paragraph of Beverly Sills' memoirs -" When I was only three and still named Beverly Miriam Silverman I sang my first aria in pubic."
* key words missed out - here her example of the 1631 edition of the St James Bible which had the 7th commandment as "Thou shalt commit adultery."
* misplaced decimal point in a ship's mortgage in 1986 by a New York Law firm which cost their client $11 million.
* omitted hyphen by a NASA computer progammer from Mariner I's flight programme which sent the probe off course so badly that it had to be destroyed, thus wasting the $7 million investment.

However in writing this appreciation of her book "Ex Libris, Confessions of a Common Reader" I find myself at risk of offending her by describing it as a masterpiece, which has far too masculine an overtone for one so alert to gender issues in print, yet mistresspiece seems inappropriate and presumptuous and mispiece reads like the female equivalent of codpiece. So here we are, the only way around is to advise you to read her piece de resistance.

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