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Deducting a couple of stars for atrocious editing
on June 15, 2009
Just received this book last week and delved right in to a very eagerly-awaited tome
on the Velvets. I'll try to boil down my issues with it as succinctly as possible: Unterberger's a very good writer, his research and attention to detail are excellent, and Jawbone's designers/artists did a bang-up job designing and packaging the volume, but why, oh why, is the proofreading and editing of this book so ABSOLUTELY HIDEOUS? It's generally really, really bad, tons and tons of glaring mistakes, misspellings of names (John Cassavettes for John Cassavetes!) that are easily fact-checked online or elsewhere, and repeated text, omitted conjunctive words and phrases, and irritating substitutions like Marsh 5 (!) for an entry on Nico meeting the Roling Stones in London in 1965 that should have been March 5 (obviously). There's no excuse for a commercial publisher to let titles go to press in this sorry a form; the field is getting more and more like this, and it tends to mar an otherwise wonderful project, such as this one. Next time, guys, you have to go against the current trend towards stinginess and austerity and crack open that piggy bank and actually PAY a proofreader/copy editor to go over the manuscript as thoroughly as possible, so this type of thing doesn't keep happening. A few errors wouldn't be so bad, but when it keeps happening, seemingly in every other paragraph, it gets really irritating really fast, and interrupts one's reading experience. It also calls into question the integrity of the writing, editing and research of the author and/or publisher, even though we know in this instance that it's obviously the fault of the publishers/editors and not the author, since Unterberger has clearly delivered a solid book here, it's just that the ball was dropped, editorially-speaking, big time. I'm going to try, as a major Velvet Underground fan and scholar for many years, to keep enjoying this otherwise well-done book, although it's tough at times, given the above glaring issues, to do so. I loved Jawbone's earlier tome by Thomas Jerome Seabrook on David Bowie's Berlin period, Bowie in Berlin, which was likewise excellent but not given, as I recall, to such egregious errors and typos, and shoddy editing. Better luck next time, guys: I'd be praising this book to the skies if not for the total lack of editorial control exhibited herein. As it is, we have a "classic" book with tons of worthy material, let down by the seeming incompetence of its own publishers/editors. Not a great situation.