Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

Maybe It’s Just Me…

By Posted on 1 No tags 0

header.png

I read this article early today and was perplexed as to how an editor allowed it to be published. But, I didn’t comment on my confusion since it was admittedly early in the morning and I had not yet partaken in my usual intravenous injection of Mt. Dew yet. But now, after the benefits of a full day of caffeine, I’m still shaking my head in amazement.

USA Today provided this staccato book review of Tom Lutz’s Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America. I know that short, declarative statements are their style and all, but should there really be nine paragraphs that contain nothing more than a single sentence? And must several other paragraphs start with a short burst followed by a colon and then a quote from the book? Consider the following examples. Each one of the entries below represents the beginning to a completely different paragraph.

The two sides of a coin: “One’s own slacking can cause guilt or pleasure…

One theory: “From the eighteenth century, when the slacker figure first appears…

By contrast, he writes: “Work, in classical culture…

In the end, this piece doesn’t read so much like a cohesive, coherent book review as a series of snippets, razor-bladed from the book at hand, thrown together in some imitation of the Beats’ cut-up technique, with a couple of words and a colon plastered there to introduce the text.

Compare that machine gun review to more well-developed examination of the same book. I know that space limitations undoubtedly hindered the USA Today effort but does that mean the article itself has to be so jarring?

Maybe the piece reads better in the printed newspaper form, as opposed to the way it appears online. Or, maybe I’m just particularly sensitive to this topic right now because one of my editors just absolutely decimated a piece I’d toiled over for quite some time. And to be honest, the editor was correct in her harsh judgments. So it’s time for me to start over with that book review. Or, should I just send it to USA Today?