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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Money & Mistakes - A Messy Mix

The three paragraphs that follow contain:
1.) A brief exposition setting the context for...
2.) Some picayune quibbling accompanied by a mea culpa leading to...
3.) A ringing book endorsement
(Newcomers: Feel free to skip directly to paragraph #3. Patient relatives and others: I hope you'll slog through the first two but you may also skip to paragraph #3 without undue guilt)

Of the many short-lived part time jobs I had while trying to earn a living as a musician, the one that has had the longest lasting ill effect on me was my time spent as a technical editor. My job for those months (weeks?) was uncovering errors of any kind in the technical documents I read. Anything was fair game - spelling (pre-Spellcheck years), punctuation, tense, redundancy, etc. and I was paid by the number of items subsequently deleted or modified. Imagine my attention to detail.

Fast forward about 40 years. I'm reading an otherwise compelling novel and find myself noticing the excessive use of one adverb. Somehow at about page 200, I'm removed from the narrative.  I begin questioning what I'd previously thought were supple metaphors and superb storytelling skills. The picayune quibbling continues - that long dormant technical editor sucks out some of my reading enjoyment. My book journal entry reflects this silliness. The following day I re-read the nearly perfect final two chapters and powerful epilogue and even with that adverb there realize what a ninny I've been.

"The Other Typist" (2013), the debut novel of Suzanne Rindell, uses a Poe-worthy unreliable narrator to tell a chilling story that will linger with you long after silly paragraph #2 has found it's rightful place in the blogosphere graveyard. Rose Baker has in her hands the fate of the men whose confessions she types working as a secretary in a busy 1924 NYC police precinct. Odalie Lazare enters her dull life and nothing is ever the same. Here's hoping two things: First, you read this book and we share notes about the skillful way Rindell drops clues along the way to her stunning denouement. And second, Rindell's second novel gets the editor she so richly deserves.

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