Why Is The Catcher in the Rye a Classic?

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger was recently ranked thirtieth out of one hundred books featured in the PBS series “The Great American Read.” It is one of the many books included in the PBS list that I had not read prior to the airing of the series, so I added it to my list. It wasn’t long before I began to understand why it was controversial and even banned by some authorities when it was first published, but in a world where a book entitled Swearing Is Good for You exists, the language and sexual references of Catcher in the Rye seem tame.

Having satisfied my curiosity about why The Catcher in the Rye was controversial, I wonder why it is considered a classic and why it would make it onto the PBS list. I have my thoughts, but rather than share them (read: bore readers with them), I thought I would ask anyone who happens to stumble on this post. What makes The Catcher in the Rye a classic?

You would make my day, my week, and possibly my month if you would take two minutes to leave a brief comment here with your thoughts.

Thank you for stopping by!


What Value Do You Place on Editorial Services?

How do you view editorial services? Do you view publication project management, copyediting, and quality-assurance activities as commodities to be purchased from the lowest bidder or even as dispensable? Or do you see quality editorial services as adding value to your publications and internal documents? Your answer can make a big difference is the quality of your publications.

Two recently published books that I read illustrate this. Both are  works of nonfiction published by small academic publishers. One, which retails for $35.00, contains misspelled words, misplaced punctuation, and other errors. The author is a friend and a careful writer. If the manuscript was copyedited at all, it appears the copyeditor may have actually introduced errors.

The second book retails for $20.00 and is very clean. The author is a family member. I read a draft of the manuscript last summer and it was clean then, but the final version apparently was carefully edited and proofed. I believe the difference between these two books reflects different philosophies toward, and value attributed to, editorial services.

What value do you place on editorial services? I’d welcome your inquiries on any project, large or small, for which you need such services.

Will “The Great American Read” Encourage Better American Writing?

Three cheers to PBS for producing  “The Great American Read” and fostering interest in and discussion about great literature. Think what you might about some of the choices, none of the one hundred books on the list has achieved its popularity in spite of having been poorly written or edited. Each might be considered a master class in good writing within its genre. Even a book whose narrative style is intentionally informal, such as The Catcher in the Rye, is an example of good writing and good storytelling.

Nothing I write will ever make it into a national list of favorites, but that doesn’t excuse shoddy technique, poor grammar, or ill-chosen words. Think (again) what you might in this postmodern, post-truth era, but I believe that anything that is worth writing should be written well. That includes, heaven help me, tweets and text messages. Although I’m not the voracious reader that I should be, I try to choose reading material that will help me polish my own communication while introducing me to new ideas, new characters, and new adventures.

What about you? As of this writing there are still five more new episodes of “The Great American Read” to be aired and the first two can be streamed from pbs.org. Check out the list of one hundred books. See if there is one that you haven’t read but that look interesting. Borrow a copy from your local library, and see if it doesn’t plant some thoughts on how you can better communicate.  Post your thoughts here if you feel so inclined. If you want help polishing your communication, consider hiring a professional editor. I might be able to help you find one.

Thanks for stopping by!


A Second Pair of Eyes

A Second Pair of Eyes

A home-improvement contractor drove down our street and stopped in front of our house recently. He was offering free estimates for driveway sealing. I was not in the market for his services, and so I declined the estimate, but I took a business card to be polite.

Everything on the card is spelled properly, but there are several errors in spacing and punctuation. This contractor isn’t offering AP-English tutoring or résumé-writing services, so why should it matter that there are a few errors on his business card? Any small business owner knows that first impressions are important. Regardless of the service that you are offering, the materials that you use to promote your business should give the impression that you are a professional.

Have a second pair of eyes look at your promotional material and even your internal documents that clients don’t see. Those eyes don’t need to belong to a professional editor or proofreader. A detail-oriented family member or friend may catch any errors and may do it for free. If you don’t have ready access to a smart family member or friend, or if the job is too large to ask someone to do for free, hire a professional editor.

I’ve worked in educational publishing for over thirty years. I have experience with the Chicago Manual of Style. I can work with your organization’s house style sheet as well, or even help you create one! I work in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, PDF, and WordPress. Send me a message if you have a document, online or print, that needs a second pair of eyes. Thank you!