Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Even Published Authors Can Mis-speak

Occasional errors in the morning paper don't surprise me any more. Even the Sunday New York Times we get delivered each week (but at thirty dollars a month, maybe not for much longer when I can walk down the block and get it for $5 at Starbucks) has routine mistakes that I chalk up on too much reliance on spellcheck and not enough on real editorship and skull sweat.

But this egregious mis-use/mis-wording nearly made me do a spit-take with my yogurt this morning. Its from an article-slash-interview with Ethan Brown, the author of "Shake the Devil Off: A True Story of the Murder that Rocked New Orleans", an otherwise fine-sounding book about a horrible post-Katrina murder-suicide committed by an Iraqi war vet. Brown worked as a reporter for a while and talked about applying his investigative skills to this story:
"That's what I was doing. Scavenging. Getting everybody's story right. Trying to get these two apocryphal events -- the Iraq war and Katrina -- right. " (Gag-inducing emphasis added.)
Of course - duh - he meant to say "apocalyptic", not "apocryphal", because for damned sure Katrina and the Iraq war are NOT "of doubtful authenticity".

Even a published author, skilled and experienced in weaving words into precise, poetic combinations, can mis-speak. But though these words are similar ... well, they start with the same two syllables, but they really ARE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING SIMILAR ... they are as different in meaning as two words can be. A total, complete, mistaken choice of words.

And isn't it the interviewer's, or the editor's, job to catch this? Doesn't this deserve at least a [sic] after the word? Does anyone at the Times-Picayune own a dictionary that has actual pages?

1 comment:

Elisha Brazeale said...

Wow. Just, wow. I saw the quote and your comment, (helpfully made before I had to bother).
This is the now warmed-over author, gaining notoriety in the wake of the more recent murder/dismemberment case involving none other than Addie Hall and Zack Bowen's self-proclaimed bestie Margaret Sanchez. Sanchez has been indicted by a Grand jury on murder charges and spoke in a documentary and indie film regarding the Hall/Bowen case. What a weird world.