Friday, May 18, 2007

Vexation with careless mistake by famous author

Also in today's blog
Reading in bed
Douglas Reeman's website
Mrs Reeman's first novel
Two comments from male readers please me

The titles on Mr Bookworm's bedside reading stack are even more eclectic than those on mine.

He is not a bookshop browser, but uses the public library and buys books "off the hedges" which is Guernsey-speak for the roadside stalls of vegetables, plants and books he passes on his walks round the island.

I was dismayed to be told by a Guernsey-born couple that these stalls are under threat from thieves. At least one stall, on a main road, has closed down because of pilfering.

When we first came to Guernsey in the Sixties and when we started to summer here in the Eighties, people could be trusted to put payment for goods bought in the open jam jars already holding coins and notes in case they needed change. Not any more it seems. What a sad turn of events. We read that standards have fallen to a very low level on the mainland, but somehow, foolishly perhaps, we hoped that the islands would remain the safe, law-abiding havens they used to be before drug-dealers targeted them.

Getting back to Mr B's books, at present the night table stack is topped by Sinfonia Napoleonica, a Spanish edition of Anthony Burgess's Napoleon Symphony [1986]; John Parker's Desert Rats [Headline 2004]; Café de artistas by Nobel-winning Camilo José Cela. In the back of this book is an article clipped from from a 1986 Time magazine headed "Spain's 'First Dissident'"…"not on the side of those who make history, but of those who suffer history."

Vexation with careless mistake by famous author

However Mr B's current reading is Alexander Kent's Signal-Close Action! described above the title as "Action under sail from the master story-teller of the sea."

The other night, while we were reading, cosily sandwiched between the electric blanket and the duvet, he suddenly gave a wordless exclamation of annoyance. When I asked the reason, he said, "I can't believe he could make such a mistake…or that his editor didn't pick it up."

The mistake he was referring to is on page 292 of the paperback 1982 reprint. See if you can spot it. It's in a comment made by Captain Thomas Herrick to Commodore Bolitho, the hero of 23 books until, in 1815, he was killed in action on his flagship, following Napoleon's escape from Elba and succeeded as hero by Adam Bolitho.

What Herrick said was : "There is nothing more you could do, sir. Even Rear Admiral Nelson was dismasted in a storm and allowed the Frogs to escape from Toulon. It's like seeking a hare in a burrow. With only one ferret, the odds of success are hard against you."

Perhaps I should explain that Mr Bookworm had the luck to be one of the many generations of schoolboys who were able to explore the countryside near their homes with a freedom few if any lads enjoy nowadays. As long as they were home by tea-time, no one worried about them. Consequently Mr B learned a great deal about wild life. He and his brothers kept rabbits and later in life, in his wildfowling years, he owned a ferret.

So he knew – as must many other Bolitho readers – that hares do not live in burrows and ferrets aren't pack animals.

Wikepedia tells us – "Hares do not bear their young below ground in a burrow as do other Leporidae, but rather in a shallow depression or flattened nest of grass called a form. Young hares are adapted to the lack of physical protection offered by a burrow by being born fully furred and with eyes open. They are hence able to fend for themselves very quickly after birth, that is to say they are precocial. By contrast, the related rabbits and cottontail rabbits are altricial, having young that are born blind and hairless.
All rabbits (except the cottontail rabbits) live underground in burrows or warrens, while hares (and cottontail rabbits) live in simple nests above the ground, and usually do not live in groups. Hares are generally larger than rabbits, with longer ears, and have black markings on their fur. Hares have not been domesticated, while rabbits are often kept as house pets. The hare's diet is very similar to that of the rabbit."

Douglas Reeman's website

Alexander Kent is the pseudonym of Douglas Reeman at whose excellent website I learned that "Today the exploits of Richard and Adam Bolitho are featured in twenty-six novels, the lives and deaths of other men, equally heroic, in thirty-five Reeman novels." A prodigious output.

Mrs Reeman's first novel

I was also interested to read that Mr Reeman's wife, Kimberley Jordan Reeman, has her first novel, Coronach, coming out on October 15, 2007.

"Coronach is a historical epic of the eighteenth century, spanning forty-four years and three generations, and is set in Britain, the Caribbean, America, and France on the eves of their respective revolutions." You can read an extract at the site.

We are also told she had attended one of Douglas Reeman's readings "at Toronto's Harbourfront complex as a fan of the Bolitho novels. In 1985 they were married in Toronto, the culmination of a romance credited at least partly to Richard Bolitho, and on a date which, quite coincidentally, was that fictional hero's birthday."

Two comments from male reader please me

I had begun to think that Adrian Weston was my only male reader, although I try hard to make this a unisex blog.

So yesterday's comments from Frederick and writer Richard Havers were particularly pleasing.

I also made an unpleasant discovery about the misuse of comments. More about that on Monday.

If I were a TV presenter, I'd conclude with "Have a lovely weekend!" Do you share my irritation with their habit of saying, "Have a great evening" etc?

But then Mr Bookworm and I fume every five minutes when watching TV, not that we do a lot of it. Maybe younger viewers don't mind all these irritations. Constant hand movements. Bad vowels. Horrible hair styles. "Absolutely!" etc.


At 18 May, 2007, Blogger Richard Havers said...

Thank you for your kind words.

I'm sure that many men read your blog, they just don’t comment. It is, I have to say, absolutely fascinating in its breadth and eclecticism.

On the subject of mistakes I think a great deal of the problem lies with publishers cutting back on the editing process.

On Border ITV's local news programme they have a girl who does the weather that almost every evening finishes her forecast with the words, "Take care now." I want to shout at the TV, actually that's not quite true. I DO shout at the TV.

At 19 May, 2007, Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Mr Havers and Mr B are not the only men who shout at the TV on a regular basis.

Mr F has also been known to fling the odd expletive at the newreader for telling us to have a "good weekend/evening". It's not just the imperative, it's the fact that they think it's any of their business. But then he also instantly changes channel whenever a particular politician appears, which means I rarely see the evening news.

As for mistakes, I'm trying to remember which thriller writer it was who thought you would be allowedd to smoke a pipe on a plane (back in the 70s) and that the Zambezi was the border with South Africa and what was then Southern Rhodesia.

At 20 May, 2007, Blogger Adrian Weston said...

What about Grumpy Old Bookman - I'd hazard that his maleness is beyond question!

At 13 October, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It should be remembered that when Mr. B was out learning about the finer points of hares in the hedgerows, Mr. R. (Douglas Reeman/Alexander Kent) was out in the Channel facing the violence of the enemy every night from the age of 16. If this is the only quibble you can find with a body of work that spans fifty years, as of June 9, 2008, and a man who is not only one of Britain's most cherished novelists under both his names, but indeed "dearest of men"... all I can say is, please get a life.

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