Like a plomise
With the new school year just around the corner, everyone ’round these parts is preparing. And though the normal means of preparation include getting school supplies, buying textbooks, buying a new outfit, etc., how I get ready is by reading as many novels as humanly possible. Not for any class or anything, but simply because I know I won’t be able to read another novel for the next 8 months. Having downed approximately 5 novels in the last 6 weeks, I had exhausted our supply of unread books and had to work a new book into the budget. However, said new book (Fearless by Cornelia Funke, my favorite children’s author) is the 2nd in a series, the first of which (Reckless) was published 3 years ago and thus was no longer stored in my memory. So, I’ve been re-reading this first book at break-neck speed in order to catch up to the story line and still be able to finish the new book before September 4th rolls around. And you’d think that at that pace the editor in me wouldn’t rear its finicky little head, but it did, and now I’m remembering not just the world of Mirrorworld, but also my previous editorial flags. The first time I read Reckless, any fears of Cornelia Funke’s new book not living up to the Inkworld trilogy subsided with a sentence on the first page: “He felt [the night] on his skin like a promise.” With such beautiful imagery, I was good to go. But then, 80 pages later, a sentence came up that seemed strangely familiar: “The jade ran through his human skin like a promise.” I recall the first time I read Reckless, I was irked that the exact same simile was used with the exact same wording, but I let it go since it’s Cornelia Funke (who can do no wrong), and a translation of Cornelia Funke at that (meaning any wrongs could be attributed to the translator).
However, the second time through, the duplicate clause jumped out at me once again, and this time I’m thoroughly annoyed. So much so that my momentum has been thrown off. If I had been the editor of the book, this would not have happened, and I would’ve happily glided right past page 81 onto the rest of the book and the second in the series. This isn’t an e-book where mistakes are for whatever reason to be expected. Nor is it like the case of Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, where the uncountable grammatical mistakes read like the uninspired fulfilling of a contract or misuse of his bestseller name. This is a Cornelia Funke novel, for goodness sakes! And I’ve now lost more than a couple good reading hours obsessing about this!!! I could bite the ($270 textbook) bullet and take German this year so that I can read the original and see whether it is the translation’s fault or not. But what if it isn’t? Please, someone tell me that the duplicate imagery isn’t that bad. Or someone please give me examples of other truly good writers making annoying little mistakes like this that deserve to be forgiven. Otherwise I might have to spend the rest of the summer doing actual work.
(Photo of the Notre-Dame gargoyles, taken by me. I’m not sure they could be said to do anything like a promise, but if those stone heads were looking over your shoulder whilst writing, I’m sure you wouldn’t use the same phrase twice.)