Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: A New Review and a Lesson Re-Learned
Last week brought the publication of my first piece for The Barnes & Noble Review: a review of Anthony Doerr’s oh-so-impressive new novel All the Light We Cannot See. I’m really proud of this review and happy to share it.
Something interesting happened with this assignment that I thought I’d mention here as a sort of how-to reminder.
If you’re a reviewer and/or familiar with the galley versions that are circulated to reviewers and other early readers ahead of publication, you may have noticed these cautionary words that often accompany them:
Before quoting for review, please consult the final edition or check with the publisher.
I honestly don’t know how closely other reviewers hew to this dictum, but I’ve always believed it to be important. It was essential in the case of this assignment, because one flaw in the book that I identified in the draft I submitted to my editors had been corrected in the final copy. As I hoped and suspected it would be.
That meant, though, that my original paragraph had to be excised. In case you’re curious, I’ll paste it here.
Doerr’s control of this novel for its more than 500 pages is so expert that one small mistake stands out. This error, which those who know Paris will perceive at once, occurs when Doerr situates the LeBlancs’ Paris apartment—definitively located in earlier pages within a Left Bank neighborhood six blocks from the natural history museum—across the Seine in Montmartre. (Alas, not once, but three times within two pages does the author place the LeBlancs’ home on the Rue des Patriarches in a quartier not its own.)
Good thing that I checked against the final copy, right? Although I’ll add that this isn’t always so easy to do. (I’ve found it to be significantly easier when reviewing for a high-profile venue whose editors are likely to receive final copies ahead of the actual publication date anyway. But I can think of many times in the past, when I’ve written reviews that haven’t been published until well after the book’s release date, when I’ve found myself checking my text against titles already on bookstore shelves.)
Any other reviewers have similar stories to recount?