Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Reading notes and a bit of a rant

Where did the week go? This is what happens when one is sick on Monday and comes to work still feeling yucky on Tuesday. So I have tons to do at work -- but I did anyway! But I thought I'd write about what I read over the weekend: Thud! by Terry Pratchett. As always, Pratchett tells an entertaining story and skewers EVERYTHING imaginable -- from PDA's to children's literature -- and gives you something to think about in the process. He slips the occasional deep thought in unobtrusively while you're laughing.

But ... Yes I have a couple of issues with this book. It needed another proofreading -- there are too many typos for a major publisher to be able to get away with. For any publisher to get away with, for that matter. I understand how hard it is to catch every single mistake in something the size of a novel, but it became annoying. I can't just read past misspelled words or other typographical errors.

My other complaint is Pratchett's choice of pronouns. Specifically, throwing subject/pronoun agreement out the window and using they or their in place of he or his or him as a generic singular pronoun. (To me this isn't a feminist issue, it's a grammar issue.) I know this is how we often talk, and it's becoming more common in writing, but it still feels wrong and it trips me up everytime. Terry Pratchett is a good writer who makes effective use of wordplay of all sorts. His grammar is usually impeccable, in a very British way of course. Which all makes this usage seem even more wrong. (And I don't recall that I've ever noticed it in his writing before, but it's been quite a while since I read one of his books.) There are plenty of ways to write a sentence so that you don't get trapped into this kind of usage. I wish he, or his editor, had made use of them.

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