In the midst of reviewing, editing, and revising, one reads. Sometimes further afield than others. Malaprop’s ( is amazing in many respects, not least for the writers who flow through. Friday is Yann Martel (The Life of Pi). I missed, but deliberately (why?), Elizabeth Gilbert when she came through town. Tonight we listened to Malcolm Jones, long-time editor with Newsweek, read from his captivating memoir of growing up Southern and trying to figure it out. He was introduced by Elizabeth Kostova (The Historian, The Swan Thieves). The other week was Ron Rash (Serena), a local writer who teaches at Western Carolina, a ways over in the Smokies. I love this place.

Ghost writing

It’s one thing to give advice on the obvious to the ignorant.

It’s quite another to self-publish a book on how to write that’s riddled with errors — errors of syntax, grammar, diction, spelling, and consistency. When the book is in its second edition, the worry is compounded.

Were errors introduced in the revision? Were errors original and not caught in the review? Was the copy editor at fault? Was the proofreader to blame? Maybe the author . . . ?

The answers to these questions (and others) strike me as immaterial when the person writing the book is telling the readers of the book how to write books for people who can’t write right.

Perhaps I’m missing something. But I don’t think so.