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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Elysium -- Review

by Pamela Stewart, Anvil Press, 2008

I've received a book of short stories by Pamela Stewart from Anvil Press, part of a wonderful blog idea found at Mini Book Expo for Bloggers. We literary bloggers agree to review the book upon receiving it. I've just finished it. I began with a short middle story, worked my way to the end, and then started back at the beginning.

Elysium is a collection of unrelated stories (don't be fooled by certain names reappearing in different stories, they are different people) where death is the theme of about half. The other plots center on the equally downhearted: people have recently died, sex is bad and getting worse, relationships are ending people are homeless. Still, Halloween is approaching and I approached the book with ghoulish delight.

Because my review is complex I'm writing it in two parts. This first one addresses a slew of frightful problems that should have been caught by the author or editor.

It really saddens me to see what could be a great independent publisher cranking out a work so full of mistakes. And I really don't understand. Is the writer so uncaring she doesn't check what she writes? Is the editor so blind s/he misses the errors? Is this a symptom of sloppiness or laziness that infects this author?

So, in this first part of the review I'm going to merely catalogue some of Elysium's mistakes as we ponder whether or not to trust anything the author has written. If they can't get the simple things right, how can we expect them to handle the complexities of writing?

-- a primary colour is not green. It is a secondary colour. Red, blue, and yellow are primary colors when it comes to paint, which is what I think she means even though she is talking about a streetlight.
-- "skoot" is spelled "scoot"
-- "complement" means a colour complement. The author means "compliment." Seriously, even a spell check will pick this up.
-- "Mea Culpa" does not have to be capitalized
-- "Dr. Suess" should be "Dr. Suess." Disgusting lack of checking here.
-- "Childrens' Aid" should be "Children's Aid"
-- "Gideon's Bible" should be "Gideons Bible"
-- Wilson Bently in Vermont is known by everyone as "Snowflake Bently." This shows she didn't understand the regional very well, nor did she fact check very thoroughly.
-- "one-night-stand" does not require the last hyphen
-- "jack-knifed" as what a semi does, requires no hypen
-- "Hudson Bay Blanket" should be "Hudson's Bay Blanket." Again, poor fact checking.
-- "meat-eater's" does not require a hypen
-- the plural of "Bichon Frise" is "Bichon Frises." The author left it singular because it appears she did not know how to pluralize it.
-- "Paul William's" has the name of "Paul Williams" so the apostrphe would be after the "s".
-- "Foccacia" bread should be "Focaccia." Here's a hint....DICTIONARY
-- Matthew 15:13 is mis-referenced. She means Matthew 15:24 or 15:34 depending on the version.
-- "Sam Kinnison" is really "Sam Kinison"
-- "Wikki Watchi" is really spelled "Weeki Wachee." Another hint...SEARCH ENGINE

I shall stop here with the understanding that this is more than enough to make my few but gentle readers shudder with disgust and horror.

In the second part of the review I will exhume the writing itself. Stay tuned.