Saturday, December 18, 2010

Loose rei[g]ns

I've noticed typos here and there in The New Yorker over the past year or so. At first I brushed aside the conclusion that things are getting looser over there; perhaps I'm just getting better at this, I thought. (You don't turn off the error-detecting software when you're out of the office.) I try not to freak out too much about the impending Death of Print Journalism, for obvious sanity-preserving reasons. But then, in the December 13 issue, two mistakes in the same article! This is alarming. Are there any full-time copy editors and proofreaders left at Conde Nast?

The article, for those of you playing along at home, was John Lahr's profile of Elia Kazan, "Method Man." On page 91, third column, a missing close-quote:
it was Kazan, newly promoted from stage manager to actor, who shouted the play’s famous last lines—“Strike! Strike!! Strike!!!—which became the battle cry of the thirties.
And on page 93, first column, the true mark of a copy editor asleep at the switch: homophone confusion!
Kazan’s straight talk cajoled, provoked, cudgelled; it kept Williams on narrative track and reigned in his lyrical excess.
And I was able to copy and paste both of those from The New Yorker's website, where they still haven't been corrected. O tempora! O mores!

Meanwhile, the December 20 & 27 issue is one of those double issues I spend half as much time reading. It feels like half the staff is already on vacation and the other half wishes they were. First of all, Ian Frazier is peerless and wonderful, but these lame "Cursing Mommy" pieces -- does anybody find them funny? And we also get a bonus not-funny "humor" piece, "Santaleaks" -- really? Also, am I the only one who noticed that the cartoons on page 54 and page 68 are the same joke? In both, someone is about to be executed. Page 54 caption: "His highness is changing his relationship status." Page 68 caption: "I'm about to enter an area of poor reception." (Technological phrases in incongruous settings, am I right?!) At least put them in different issues.

However, you will doubtless be pleased to know that this same issue has a feature article by our old friend John Colapinto. It is a work of breathtaking and unquestionable genius. I haven't read it. So time-saving to know I needn't bother! (P.S. If you haven't seen that old post, or it's been a while, you really ought to check it out again. The entertainment value never wanes.)

P.S. Speaking of works of genius, you can read my review of Gary Shteyngart's novel Super Sad True Love Story in the latest Commonweal -- but only if you subscribe.


genarm1212 said...

Actually, I love Ian Frazier's "Cursing Mommy" pieces and so do just about all my friends. We were so happy that he decided to do more than one, and we look forward to many more! Remember, it's all opinion . . .

Amy Wilson said...

Hate hate those cursing mommy pieces. It is indeed all opinion. I guess I'm just pissed that they would never deign to print any funny parenting writing that was by an *actual* mother, just someone pretending to be one. Because everyone knows real mothers aren't funny or interesting.