Somewhere, in some journal in the 1960s, in Toronto, I mentioned Thomas Pynchon’s V. a couple of times. The printed version had been carefully edited in each case so that it read Thomas Pynchon’s W.
I don’t know that this qualifies as the “stupidest” thing an editor said to me (and, as an editor, I’m sure there are some writers out there still shaking their heads in disbelief at some of the inane things I have said), but it does illuminate the over-reliance on-less-than-reliable information when fact-checking. A copyeditor on a book I co-edited changed the publication date of a Robert Bloch novel from 1990 to 1991. I insisted 1990 was correct. He insisted adamantly that 1991 was correct. When I asked him on what authority he was basing this change, he cited an online genre database he was looking at (and which I knew not to be entirely accurate).
He then challenged me to tell him what authority I was basing MY chosen date on. I replied, “The first printing of the book, whose copyright page I’m looking at as we speak.”
The smug bastard in me couldn’t help responding, “I guess it’s too late to tell the publisher they goofed.”
On another project, I referred in text to Robert Bloch’s Once Around the Bloch, which I described as “jokingly subtitled ‘An Unauthorized Autobiography.’ ” I got marked up pages back from the copyeditor asking me if I might explain what joke I was referring to.
I’m sure Robert Bloch would be amused to know he was the source of so much humor.
Karen Joy Fowler
On more than one occasion (and I know I’m not alone in this) I’ve had writing students tell me they don’t read as a deliberate policy so as not to taint their own work. I might not use the word stupid for this: there is a logic here. But I think it an unlikely road to success. Or happiness.
I’ve heard that too. Also writing students who say that they don’t LIKE to read, and almost never read anything. Both among the saddest–and stupidest–statements I’ve heard from the younger generations.
My eighth grade History teacher kept talking about the Com-promise of 1850. After about the third usage, I couldn’t stand it. I raised my hand and said, “it’s com-preh-mize!”
I had to sit in the back of the room for the rest of the year.