Cannibal Hearts, by Misha Burnett (33:09)

IOD-Cannibal_Hearts.jpgToday we see that even when the reader is fully engaged and loving the story, frequent editorial gaffes can have a draining effect, to the point where the book might even be abandoned.

What I gleaned about the story: James Ozwryck runs a dodgy little facilities management empire, maintaining the kinds of facilities that only incompetents and criminals could love. It’s a dangerous crowd, but he’s not worried. Because when things get out of hand, the demon who lives inside his skin can kill a roomful of armed thugs with nothing more than a broken chair leg.

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Note: As a minor observation, I personally find bold text rather intrusive as an emphasis technique, so when I see it in a novel, I expect it to be a lot more important. In this book however, it’s used where I would normally expect italics: to denote personal titles and such, which seems like shouting. It’s not a WTF, but an observation about the subtle gradations of typographic importance.

WTF #1: Awkward parsing

Analysis: The protagonist is head of a facilities management company. He interrupts two employees who appear to be in the midst of torturing an unnamed guy, and he tells them: “I’m very happy for him, but right now I’ve got a move out walk through that I need a maintenance guy to do.”

It took me several runs to parse the middle of that sentence. When I first hit “move out,” I wondered if it should have read “I’ve got to move out,” but then I faltered on the next phrase. I think hyphenating both phrases here would have helped: I’ve got a move-out walk-through. At least hyphenated like this, I wouldn’t have to spend so much of my time trying to figure out how to group those four words.

This is one of those cases where the sentence might make perfect sense to the character, but it catches a reader off guard because we’re not yet in the head-space that would make those phrases obvious. For the benefit of readers, I’d suggest rephrasing it to something like: I need a maintenance guy to do a walk-through of that move-out in unit 23.

Kudos #1: I love Catskinner

Details: There is something preternaturally delightful in watching an expert do their thing, even if that expert is a homicidal demon in the body of a computer nerd. After clearing a room full of Russian mobsters with his bare hands, we get this lovely bit of repartee and writing:

“You should have run, little man, we would have let you run, but it is too late for that now and so you die, you die foolish and alone and on your knees,” and my hands came up, shards of broken glass in both of them, and for one perfect moment all God’s world was red.

WTF #2: Sloppy copy editing

Speed bump #1: Bonus word: and another thug was was falling

Speed bump #2: Omitted word: I hurried up the stairs and left Ex help Anastasia. Technically, that should either be “left Ex to help” or “left Ex helping.” Or maybe “let Ex help Anastasia.” Trying to decide which was intended is a maddening distraction.

Speed bump #3: She didn’t look like the president and mostly owner of a major commercial real estate firm, either. Mostly she looked like a porn star. This one’s not wrong, exactly, but that first mostly would have been smoother as “majority”, and that would also have cleared the echo with the second “mostly.”

Speed bump #4: Her body was the kind that causes conversations to stop and drivers to rear end each other, and she dressed to emphasize it. That was deliberate, she said she did to make people underestimate her. Seems to be a word missing.

At first, these minor glitches were relatively widely spread out, and some were even excusable as possible stylistic variation, but they finally started bunching up on the same page, densely enough to snag my attention.

WTF #3: More editorial glitches

Speed bump #5: Then I went to check in with Nancy Dew. I can’t say it’s an actual error, because I’m not entirely sure who he’s referring to. We have seen no female investigator types yet, so it might have been intended as Nancy Drew, but then again, it could be an entirely new character who just happens to have a similar name to the famed girl detective. Even a chapter later, there had been no further mention of her last name by which I could have corroborated the proper spelling. This is one of those cases where the narrator might have been better to hang a lantern on it. “Yeah, No ‘r’ in that. She gets that a lot.”

Speed bump #6: “I f you hear from Shimmer, have him give me a call, okay?” Note the erroneous space at the beginning.

Speed bump #7: Chapters are not broken to new pages, they just run one after the next. Not sure if that happens on the Kindle as well, but that’s the way it shows up in my offline reader.

Speed bump #8: I usually leave out the fact that being my an orphan was self-inflicted.

Speed bump #9: She was in the information business, working as a freelance investigator specializing finding people who were lost.

Note: This has been really frustrating. I love Catskinner. I love the world. I am even really enjoying this story. But the steady frisson of editorial carpet wrinkles makes it hard for me to slip fully into the world and just go for the ride. I have to keep my sensors on the alert for those pesky trip-hazards.


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While the Black Stars Burn, by Lucy A. Snyder (40:00)
Endgame, by Susan Kelly (4:40)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.