Thursday, March 22, 2007

because it can't hurt and maybe they will respond and save me from being a chicken

In the past two issues of The New Yorker, I have come across mistakes in the magazine, or what, at the least, I perceived to be mistakes. I mention this for two reasons: one, to confirm that they are actually mistakes since both are a bit questionable and could actually be the intended word choices, and; two, if they are, in fact, mistakes, I would like to mention that I am in between jobs currently, that my last job was as a copy editor, and that I have always desired to be employed in that same position at The New Yorker.

In last week’s issue, the Style Issue of March 19, within Jonathan Lethem’s story, “Lucky Alan,” there appears this passage on p. 108: “And Zwelish sometimes lets his guard down and complained, obscurely, about ‘modern urban women.’ He’d only gloss the topic, and Blondy didn’t press the sore point. Zwelish seemed to know how vulnerable Zwelish wanted to get.” Now, it could be that that last sentence is correct and as the author intended, but it seems a bit too cloyingly metaphysical in comparison to the rest of the tone of the story, which is, for the most part, more muted in those explorations. It appears that that last sentence should read: “Blondy seemed to know how vulnerable Zwelish wanted to get.” That follows logically from Blondy not pressing the sore point, his knowing how vulnerable Zwelish wanted to get.

In Alec Wilkinson’s “Anything Pink Goes,” a profile of Jimmy Webb, in this week’s issue, Wilkinson, in reference to Webb’s numerous pairs of custom-made Agatha Blois jeans, refers to them as “his signal extravagance,” (p. 45). Again, this very well could be the author’s intended word choice, but the phrase seems clunky, especially as it is so similar to the far more commonly said “single extravagance.” I am not necessarily sure how these jeans constitute the single extravagance of a man who has bleached hair, who wears “stacks of heavy silver bracelets,” and who wears “a silver heart surrounded by thorns” around his neck. However, I am even less sure how the jeans would constitute his signal extravagance, am not even sure what that particular phrase would mean.

Again, I would just like to know for the sake of my own curiosity whether these two perceived mistakes are actually ones, or whether they are the intended meanings of the writers. If it is the former, I again mention that I am currently looking for work and would be an excellent addition to your magazine’s proofreading or copy editing staff. Should you also think so, attached is a copy of my resume.

Charlie Quiroz

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