Editors don't get paid nearly enough

Part of my job at the moment is to do all the purchasing for the library, and one thing I look at is the New York Times Book Review bestseller list.

Number 1 for last week is Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell. I went over to Amazon but saw that it has received 102 customer reviews with an average rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars. Which, ouch. Then I saw the first customer review and I absolutely had to share this bit with you. Props to eagle-eyed Top 1000 reviewer Terry Matthews, who notes:

Between pages 65, 66 and 67, Cornwell writes

"...he's done the unthinkable."

"...he might be capable of the unthinkable."

"...not if he did the unthinkable."

"He may have done the unthinkable."

"...she hopes ... that the unthinkable hasn't happened."

"Assuming he's done the unthinkable..."

What's *unthinkable* is that this mess got through the editing process. Is there no one brave enough to stand up and say, "Miss Cornwell, this won't do. Bring it back when it's worthy to print or get a ghost writer."?

Wow. That is so, so very awesome, especially when you consider that "unthinkable" is pretty much a word you use when you don't know what else to say but want to sound all dramatic. And to use that word 6 times in three pages? Means you were suffering from a pretty big mind fart. I think I'll hold off on this one. If people as for it I could always show them the bad reviews and ask, "Are you sure?"


i i e ee said... [reply]

While the Times editors probably get paid way too much.

erin said... [reply]

Interestingly enough, this book is listed as an "irresistible read" in O Magazine. So she might not know how to diversify words, but she apparently knows how to write as a "forensic sleuth."

Nemesis said... [reply]

Erin, from what I can tell this is #15 in a series and quite possibly the well has dried up. :-)

Nemesis said... [reply]

Which is funny, really. Because if you get a movie franchise that tries to stretch itself out too long, people generally will shut that right down because the quality drops. With books, I guess it's different and the publishers can't resist a cash cow.

Miss Hass said... [reply]


Whenever I accidentally read a book like that, I think, "I could write this!" And then I think, "Ah yes, but I am not a whore who will write crap for money."

Azúcar said... [reply]

Caution: Editor asleep at the pen.

The sad thing is that we all know those people, the ones that just want the same book over and over again. They do not want to be surprised; they do not want to be challenged. Cornwell is for them.

Rachel said... [reply]

Hmmmmm what's another word for thesaurus?

Petra said... [reply]

Maybe said action was only unthinkable in that Cornwall didn't bother to think of what it actually was.

At the very least, she's proved that the unthinkable is not the unwritable.

Becky said... [reply]

Love her stuff but have held off buying this one precisely because of the reviews. BOO HOO!

April said... [reply]

Many authors who've written a ton of money-generating books get away with writing crap that's unnecessary because the editors/publishers are afraid to hold them to the same standards as newer authors.
Authors who could use an editor's heavy hand: J.K. Rowling (love her, but Order of the Phoenix was way too long), Stephen King (we get it, you can describe everyday items at great length), Nicholas Sparks (decent storylines [kinda], terrible writing), Nora Roberts (ditto), etc.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

Urggh . . . .

Make of that frustrated sound what you will. I hate these authors that write a few good books and then no matter what drivel they turn out they get published and purchased and rich. Why doesn't somebody look at the Anita Stansfields of the world and say, "Look, you just don't have a story a year in you. This is complete drivel."

And I love the word drivel.

Oh, and I've been meaning to ask if you and Lynne Truss were somehow seperated at birth.

Lizardbreath McGee said... [reply]

I've been kind of feeling the same way about reading Dan Brown's Angels & Demons, which I am reading so I can read the book before The DaVinci Code which I am reading because... I want to say I have read it?

Anyway--it's amazing how often the characters in the novel are just stunned at something. It's like they spend the entire novel in a state of stupor just waiting for the author to pull on their little strings. Which he does stiltingly.

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