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Saturday, September 16, 2006

What I can't tell you.

I've been reading a good deal over the past month and a newish book you might want to read is ManBug by George Ilsley. It's certainly a shake-up of normal literature but really worth the few bux. (He's the author of Random Acts of Hatred, 2004). Here is a link you can check out.

Unfortunately I can' t tell you most of what I've read recently. I'd like to, I want to, but I don't dare.

Ah, you ask why. I'll tell you. These are books by Canadian writers. They are writers who I believe are giving Canadian writing a nasty, foul name.

I'm complaining about two issues. The first is the number of errors that fill their pages: capitalization problems, misspellings, inconsistencies. Examples, in the book I just threw down in disgust last night after reaching the last page, and one I might add by a major Canadian author, I found often in paragraphs nearly next to each other Volkswagen beetle and Beetle, tee shirt and tee-shirt, dia de las muertas (which should be dia de los muertos), Led Zepellin instead of the correct Led Zeppelin. We wish to trust our writers, and we know there are such things as a dictionary and the internet. So just how can so many errors get through? Where is the editor and proofreader? My suspicion is that bigger publishing houses have fired them all, or they are so afraid of the more major author's ego that they don't dare touch anything.

My second beef is the lack of quality in the writing. We're talking hideous, horrifyingly bad writing here, with dependant clauses all over the place, with sentences ending with the same adverb over and over, with three or four sentences that should be combined, or even those repeating the same material two paragraphs later. I cannot help but consider this highly suspect, and my guess is the authors neither cared nor revised nor reread. And I would guess that IF they asked readers to lookk their work over, the readers were afraid to comment. Hey I know we all make mistakes, that's one of the beauties of the novel, it's big, dangerous, tottering on the edge of blowing apart. But to be able to easily critique the book in terms of a 101 writing class -- well I just don't see the excuse. There should be no excuse. Art is not about tossing slop onto a page or a canvas and saying it's done. It's about revising and crafting and making it clear.

And so I won't tell you what I've been reading, only because these books are written by Canadian authors (some I might add have been sponsored by Canada Council and have received rave reviews by the Toronto Globe -- which I'm beginning to suspect is paid off by publishing houses because any reviewer that read these books would have to be blind not to see such problems.) So call me chicken. Call me unwilling to piss off members of the writing community here. No, I won't do it publically. Come to my class and I'll gladly tell you.