Tuesday Hangovers

5 thoughts on “Tuesday Hangovers”

  1. Hi Gwenda,
    Yes, I would have run the Smiley review, but not unedited. Nor did Mike Schaffer run it unedited. But I think we may have to quibble as to the sense of “editing” in this case. One reads through a review to make sure there are no grammatical glitches and no gaps in the information provided, questions raised, but left unanswered, etc.
    But the reviewer’s opinion of a given book is the reviewer’s opinion, no more, no less. I ran many reviews that I didn’t particularly agree with because that was what the reviewer thought and I had to respect that, not insist that the change a view to suit me – which would lose you a lot of reviewers pretty fast.
    It is not the role of a book-review editor to protect an author from a negative review. Actually, I think this review, given the response it has generated, may benefit the book.

  2. Hey Frank — No, I get what you’re saying, and agree with your point. (Guess I should have included the parenthetical that said so after all.) I was talking about the more intrusive type of editing, not cleaning little things up. I don’t think that anyone believes that professional editors don’t read reviews before they run them and I’d like to think that editors do something different than copy editors.
    So in this case, the review says more about Smiley than it does about the book, and I think that kind of review can be enjoyable in a certain way for those of us who actually read book reviews. So I see no reason why an editor would send it back or refuse to run it, though I suppose I also wonder if it wasn’t Jane Smiley, would it be sent back for revision. Eh, maybe, or at least some clarifying here and there, but possibly that’s as it should be too. Part of what makes it enjoyable in that certain way is that Smiley’s sitting high enough up the ivory tower that watching her slip off barely feels like schadenfreude at all.

  3. Hi Gwenda —
    So we are on the same page. I don’t think being Jane Smiley would keep you from having an editor raise questions that needed to be asked – I certainly wouldn’t hesitate, and I know Mike Schaffer wouldn’t. One little secret about book-review editors, though: We tend to find people to review who don’t need much of the nuts-and-bolts editing. We just don’t have the time to deal with writers who need a heavy edit.

  4. Yep — and sure. The book review editors I’ve worked with have been great, and I don’t think I’ve had much more than a couple of copy desk queries and the like. I suspect Ed might disagree with us about the need for stronger editing of certain reviews, but that’s why we love him. 🙂

  5. I haven’t picked up a Stephen King book in years but that well-deserved shot makes me want to go buy his entire ouevre. What can I say? I like the smiting of the holier-than-thous.

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