THE WRATH OF AN AGGRIEVED WRITER can be terrible yet beautiful to behold. For instance, witness Giles Coren's famous 2002 response to a sub-editor's mistake in The Times of London, in which the sub-editor had changed a crucial word in a book review Mr Coren wrote. To start his review, Mr Coren had written: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Very clever. All 26 letters of the alphabet in a 35-letter sentence." Sadly, one of the "the's" got replaced with an "a," thus bolluxing up Mr Coren's lead.
In response, Mr Coren wrote a response that is particularly unsuitable for those who find strong language offensive, and I can assure readers it is so foul it makes a 16th century English sailor look like the Archbishop of Canterbury. But now that you've been warned, let's just say the man was not happy:
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. How fucking difficult is that? It's the sentence that bestrides the fucking book I reviewed for you. It is the sentence I wrote first in my fucking review. It is 35 fucking letters long, which is why I wrote that it was. And so some useless ---- sub-editor decides to change it to "jumps over a lazy dog" can you fucking count? Can you see that that makes it a 33 letter sentence? So it looks as if I can't count, and the ----ing author of the book, poor Mr Dunn, cannot count. The whole bastard book turns on the sentence being as I fucking wrote it. And that it is exactly 35 letters long. Why do you meddle? What do you think you achieve with that kind of dumb-witted smart-arsery? Why do you change things you do not understand without consulting? Why do you believe you know best when you know fuck all? Jack shit.
That is as bad as editing can be. Fuck, I hope you're proud. It will be small relief for the author that nobody reads your poxy magazine.
Never ever ask me to write something for you. And don't pay me. I'd rather take £400 quid for assassinating a crack whore's only child in a revenge killing for a busted drug deal - my integrity would be less compromised.
Jesus fucking wept I don't know what else to say."
Now, I should note that -- being pedantic -- I went back through Mr Coren's original e-mail missive and fixed all the capitalization. I did so because sentences without capitalization annoy me to no end and I'll be damned if they appear on The Rant. Also, I redacted two instances of a particularly offensive word; click on the link if you wish to see the original. However, as I kept Mr Coren's missive otherwise intact, I am confident history's judgment will be on my side.
Anyway, Mr Coren's response naturally caused other writers to ask the obvious question: how the hell do you get £400 for a book review in this day and age? That aside, though, I was reminded of Mr Coren's outburst when I read the reaction Patrick Hughes had to a write-up of his new book in his local paper, The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun.
On the good side, the paper had given Mr Hughes a 75 word write-up about his new book. On the bad side, Mr Hughes discovered the write-up had four glaring typographical errors -- including one in the brief hed -- and a stupid style/factual mistake at the end of it. The mistakes are so egregious, in fact, that they challenge Mr Coren's charge that the screw-up with his book review was "as bad as editing can be." (Go give it a look. If you're a journalist -- and many of my readers are -- you'll be crying your eyes out with laughter).
As one might expect, Mr Hughes is not happy. His response, in part, reads as follows:
So, uh, fuck the Gainesville Sun. It sucks. If that sorry sham-ass excuse for a newspaper ever came into contact with real journalism it'd flame on like a vampire douching with holy water. I hope Osama bin Laden packs a Ford Pinto with fire ants and SARS and flies it into the building. I hope Chris Benoit comes back from the dead to babysit its kids. I hope its editors never ever learn how to spell "the," and all its advertisers get mad and leave, and the only people willing to buy any space in it until the end of time are American Apparel and Hitler. Seriously — fuck you, Gainesville Sun. Fuck. You.Posted by Benjamin Kepple at July 13, 2007 12:02 AM | TrackBack