Mar. 3rd, 2016

pameladean: (Default)
So I'm going over the scanned text of The Dubious Hills to catch errors and to confirm its correspondence with the originally published version. Early on, something reminds Arry of "one of Beldi's paintings." I had forgotten that Beldi ever painted anything, and was considering this in the light of the short stories (all striving to be novels, but I am pretending that that isn't happening until it's the right time to give up) that I'm writing about Arry's family after the end of the book, when I hit a remark in a later chapter. Arry, Con, and Beldi are figuring out what kind of coming-of-age present to give to a friend, and they decide to pass on some old paintbrushes of their mother's, because "None of the three of them painted." Ooops.

I see three choices.

1. Leave it alone. The book has been out for literally decades. People are used to it. This kind of error is perhaps like the one in Dorothy L. Sayers's Strong Poison, in which a note from Harriet Vane to Philip Boyes is introduced into evidence, and the judge remarks, "It is signed simply, M." This used to drive me wild. Of course, on the first reading of a mystery novel anything might be important, but since the judge ought to have remarked on it, it was probably just a typo. It's in the facsimile hardcover we have and in all paperback editions I've seen. Eventually, I had to just get over it. But I must admit that it still makes me twitch when I get to that part of the book.

2. Change the earlier reference so that Arry is reminded of someone else's paintings; there are at least three possibilities that I can think of offhand that aren't inconsistent with other assertions in the book.

3. Leave in the reference to Beldi's paintings and add a line or so to the scene where they choose to give away the brushes, about how he doesn't paint any more. This is, honestly, probably what I had in mind and lost track of in the lengthy process of writing and rewriting the book. But a larger change isn't necessarily the right thing at this juncture.

I think any of these choices is valid; it depends on the author and the book. But I'd be very much interested in any opinions or similar experiences anyone has or has had.



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