Gaaaahhhhhhhh!

1. If there’s one thing which really reduces me to ravingly incoherent rage its buying and then reading a book which has been badly edited. It makes me LIVID. I mean, I paid good money for that book, for god’s sake! [as opposed to bad money, which presumably is what Russian oligarchs and Nigerian politicians pay for their books?]

Night Train to Lisbon is a decent book – not marvellous or life-changing, but intelligent and thought-provoking – however, the editor and proof-reader need to be taken out behind the building and slapped soundly. Several times. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Typos abound. And who on earth decided not to translate the german word ‘Gymnasium’ but to leave it as is? It actually means secondary school, not gym, which I imagine would be enormously confusing to many non-German-speaking readers, since its where the main character works.

I was extremely tempted to correct the entire book in red pen and send it back to the publisher, pedant that I am.

2. Despite the fact that I am single and 38 years old next month – and thus increasingly unlikely ever to have children – I have lately found myself considering what to name my children. Possibly triggered by the arrival of three new babies (welcome Ben, April and Jarvis!) born to friends over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

And I honestly don’t feel I could decide – I mean, its such an enormous responsibility. Its essential not to pigeon-hole your child just because of their name. Perhaps this is not so important in societies which are less class-conscious than the English, but current common names (in more ways in one, sniffs the snob in me) in England for girls are things like Chardonnay (after the wine, presumably) and Chelsea (rather an up-market London suburb), both of which achieve exactly the opposite of their intention and immediately classify the child and their entire family as irredeemable Chavs (that’s ‘white trash’ if you’re in the US).

As does any name containing an apostrophe.

My brother and sisters and I were all given unusual names which were the bane of our childhoods, and which still have to be repeated and explained whenever we meet new people. Consequently, I favour simple names like Sarah and John, except that they have biblical associations which irritate my godless soul.

And its worth mentioning at this point that all the nice, traditional names like Thomas, Alexander, William, Emma, Anna, Isabel etc have been well and truly used ad nauseam by nice middle-class friends of mine.

Which leaves me with either a) Irish names, like Padraig and Aoife, as a nod towards my father’s nationality and my favourite half of myself [of course, the major stumbling block here is that non-Gaelic speakers can’t spell or pronounce them] or b) classical Latin or Greek names from history, because of my love for the period… a love which might well become resentment in any child forced to go through life called Leonidas, Gaius or Arete.

Overall, probably a good thing I’m not pregnant, no?

3. So, I’ve been back in Sydney since last Tuesday and neither Twinkly-Eyed Guy nor Tall Pilot Guy have so far been in touch to ask me out. *shrugs*

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9 Responses to Gaaaahhhhhhhh!

  1. I am so there with you about the editing and proofreading, or lack there-of, in novels that are being produced nowadays. Is it really possible for a novel to go through the sorts of preparations they go through prior to publishing and not find the malapropisms?

    I have always loved my name — Eleanor — nicely old fashioned and not overused. Nowadays, I believe that you could name your child a nice honest old fashioned name and no other child would have it, since we are rife with Tiffanys, Melissas, et alia. However, you would not be the first person who thought about what to name a hypothetical child.

    So, my dear, I am not understanding your inability to call the TEG or TPG yourself. I thought we were in the 21st century and it is now suitable for women to call men. Not that I really know anything about dating since I haven’t done it since 1976, when I got married the first time. I went from one husband to another with hardly a skipped day in between.

    • woo says:

      What really aggravates me is that we produce massive books with thousands upon thousands of words of text and they are all checked, re-checked, proofed and re-proofed at least 5 times before they go to print. Why can’t fiction publishers do the same??

      Eleanor is a lovely name, I couldn’t agree more (stores it away in her memory banks for entirely hypothetical future use) πŸ™‚

      Well, its not that I’m too chicken to call them – its just that I’m reliably informed by various friends of mine who are much better at dating than I am (i.e. much more successful) that any appearance of chasing a man will make him either a) immediately run away or b) make less effort, since he’ll assume you’ll do all the work.

  2. modestypress says:

    Don’t pay any attention to me. I’m the guy who tried to connect you and David, so my advice and comments are more than useless.

    So ignore it if I say WTF, call one or the other. Tell them some random guy on another continent took control of your nervous system.

  3. robodad says:

    I agree with your comments on names: they should be common enough so that they require no explanation, yet unique enough to individually mark the individuality of the individualistic individual.

    This is why we chose (in order): “Asshole”, “Fartface”, and “What?”

  4. azahar says:

    I always hated my name growing up because, well, it’s a boy’s name. And I wished I had a real girlie name, preferably ending with a “y”. Now I’m glad this wish never came true. Though for some reason Spanish people have a difficult time pronouncing Shawn and it always comes out something like Chown, Chone or Shwan. And when they ask me what it means it Spanish I tell them there is no translation … otherwise they’d end up calling me Juanita!

    If I’d had kids I would have named them Sara and Jack.

    • woo says:

      Both names I like, but Jack has unfortunately become rather over-used I think. I know three Jack’s who are under 5 years old.

  5. OmbudsBen says:

    Thanks for a deliciously good post. I was amused the whole way. By the way, I do correct typos in books, just for my own compulsivity.

    But now I want the origins / derivation of your own name and siblings’. What can I offer to entice you? Will you email them to me? How about if you give me the phone number of this fellow and I call him for you and slip in a word or 2 for you guaranteed to work better than pheromones?

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