Wednesday, May 09, 2012

coming soon

I had promised, a while back, to write a review of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." I hope to do that soon, but it'll be a comparative review: the other movie I'll be examining is TTSS's diametrical opposite: "Mission: Impossible-- Ghost Protocol." A hint of what's to come: I bought TTSS; I merely rented M:IGP. And I was right to do so.

I'm also most of the way through the second book of Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy. The Hunger Games was a quick read and Catching Fire is equally quick. I'll go into this in some depth later, but overall I'm liking the novels. That said, Collins should have done a better job of proofing her work: I've seen too many misspellings (there is no verb "to smoothe," for example*), and way, way, way too many dangling modifiers. That latter error seems to be her particular bugbear. We can't excuse this problem by saying that the narrator is a teen; Katniss already "talks" to us in a higher-than-teenage register.

More later.

*Collins was probably thinking of "to soothe," which does take an "e." The verbal form of the adjective "smooth," however, is "to smooth."



Charles said...

I know this is going to veer into territory covered before, but those sound like failings on the part of the editor. Having recently worked with two different editors in a major US publishing house, I have been able to witness firsthand the power of the editor. Had my upcoming project not received the loving care of those two highly-skilled individuals, I would have ended up with a much poorer translation.

Any editor who leaves in something like "smoothe," let alone the dangling modifiers, does not deserve the title of "editor." Or perhaps I am being too harsh? Maybe the publishing company figured, "Ah, what the heck, it's a YA book, we don't need to edit it rigorously."

I suppose it's also possible that "one simply does not edit Suzanne Collins." I've heard that said about another famous author. Collins, however, is not a linguist and Oxford don.

John from Daejeon said...

Damn, I tend to give writers, especially of future worlds, more slack in "their" take on the evolution/devolution of language. It also looks like I am not the only one as we have some great additions that have made it into the mainstream: waldo, TANSTAAFL, grok, arn, dren, Dominar, frell, yotz, frack (spelling from the original "BSG," not frak from the remake), and, an oldie, fubar.

Anyway, if anyone should be to blame for a few slight errors found in the texts, it should be directed at her editors; however, it could be that that was exactly what they were going for as one can "talk" higher than average, yet be an awful speller when they don't have the same advantages in her future history as some of us have had in our recent pasts.

Kevin Kim said...

C & J,

Point taken re: the power of editors, but you know my feelings re: who's ultimately responsible for the words on the page.

Not sure I buy the "linguistic evolution" argument. The novel's prose is early-2000s American English, with a few SF-style vocab words sprinkled in; I see no real evolution there. I also have trouble, sometimes, determining the extent to which the narrative voice belongs to Katniss or to the author herself. Katniss strikes me as a highly literate, articulate young woman, given her extensive vocabulary. It's ironic, because Katniss repeatedly claims that Peeta is the one with a gift for words.

Here's a question: is Katniss talking directly to us, or are we reading her journal? Hmmm. The question strikes me as important if I'm to figure out whether the novel's prose should be considered a spoken monologue or a written text. If the former, then I can give Katniss/Collins some leeway, because spoken English does tend to be sloppier than written English. If the latter, then no: Collins's prose is generally quite good, which is why her gaffes stand out.

Charles said...

" know my feelings re: who's ultimately responsible for the words on the page."

No argument there. At some point during the writing of my comment I had included the phrase "...even if the responsibility ultimately lies with the author," but somehow in the process of editing (oh, the irony!) it got left out.

I'm currently doing the final proofreading run of my manuscript. It's nerve-wracking. Doubt and fear loiter at the edges of my mind, like wolves just beyond the firelight. Flaming brands keep them at bay, but they're always there, waiting for me to nod off. Who knew that something so awesome could at the same time be so terrifying?