Sunday, October 14, 2012

On editing a book

Or not, as the case may be. Having read reviews in Metro (May, Paul Litterick: “It reads more like a blog than a book”, which is a bit rich coming from a blogger) and New Zealand Books (Spring, Louise O’Brien: “The overall effect is of being ranted at, very loudly, at close proximity, for a very long time”) of my old friend Gordon McLauchlan’s recent book The Passionless People Revisited, I thought I’d have a look at it. On page 17 this unfortunate sentence leapt out:
In her last term Clark and her ministers kept rushing around pushing their fingers into dykes to stop the administration from drowning.
This is why God gave us editors – to save writers from themselves. We all have our off days, but that is a face-palm epic fail. 

The sentence comes at the end of a paragraph about Helen Clark’s three-term government that mentions leaky homes but implies they were the fault of previous governments – and doesn’t mention that Clark long denied there was a problem and claimed it was all a beat-up by the Herald. Odd for a former Herald writer not to provide this context and remind us that the Herald is capable of superb investigative journalism.  

Incidentally, the Spring issue of NZ Books is outstanding. Other reasons for buying it include: Chris Else on Russell Haley, Julian Novitz and Gigi Fenster; Nicholas Reid on Lawrence Patchett; Martin Edmond on James McNeish; Penelope Todd on Stephanie Johnson; Iain Sharp on Laurence Simmons; Elizabeth Smither on Robin Hyde; Peter Calder on journalism; and Rebecca Priestley on Michael Corballis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kinkiness in the Herald today in a story about a former beauty queen who is selling her Paratai Drive mansion:

'Mrs Pollock-Turner lives in another home on the street with her bed-chain boss husband who, with his brothers Graeme and Peter, is worth about $110 million, according to last year's National Business Review Rich List.'