At this (quite advanced) stage in the book-publishing process, there is suddenly a lot to do, always urgently and usually without prior notice.
For instance, another dead-tree copy of the manuscript just landed on my desk, marked up in old-fashioned ink. Apparently, the cold reader had had his go.
The cold reader? Who knew? I normally prefer my readers warm.
It appears that Riverhead has sent the manuscript to someone who is anonymous to me (“cold”, I suppose) for perusal. His or her comments were not “large” (about the sweep of the story, or the logic of an argument, say), but very detailed queries about language.
All regular readers of The Hannibal Blog know me as a pedant (or word-lover, to be generous). I am rarely caught out in word matters. But it does happen, and I find that fun.
So here are a few things the cold reader pointed out, and then a few instances in which I overruled him/her.
- If something “ascends up to,” it actually simply “ascends to”.
- “Aquiline faces” are actually faces with “aquiline noses.”
- A “crevice” is not a “crevasse”, and Hannibal in the Alps better have passed the latter, or we would be mighty bored.
- “Projecting a perception of invincibility” is simply “projecting invincibility”. (Can’t believe that one happened to me!)
- A line of soldiers marching “only a couple of men deep” is actually marching “a couple of men wide.” Duh.
- Scipio could not have stood there, “his posture erect and lithe.” No, he stood there, “his posture erect, his body lithe.”
- If Scipio and Cato (or whoever) “mixed like oil and water”, then they did not mix, like oil and water.
- Being “suspicious” is not the same as being “suspect”. (Duh. Must have been late at night.)
- Do I really need to spend hours going through my books to find out whether Lucius was Scipio’s only brother? Oh yes, because, that determines whether it is “his brother Lucius” or “his brother, Lucius”.
Here are a few of the comments I overruled (getting a little frisson out of the STET every time):
- No, Meriwether Lewis’s father was not fighting “Native American” tribes. He was fighting “Indian” tribes. It’s about context.
- Hannibal might have contemplated a “bold evacuation of Italy.” But he could not have contemplated a “bold evacuation of his troops from Italy.” Why would he want to rip out the innards of his own soldiers?