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I'm Not a Mechanic, but....

Today I was reading a book called Guys Write for 'Guys Read', edited by Jon Sciezka (author of humorous books for young readers, including the Time Warp Trio series). Guys Write compiles 80 short essays from noted writers and illustrators pertaining to their lives growing up as "guys."

Of course the book left me feeling inadequate. I mean, you grow up to become an editor at Esquire magazine? I don't yet feel mature, sophisticated, or intellectual enough to even read Esquire magazine; heck, I'd feel self-conscious just leafing through an issue at a public newsstand. The various authors talk about stuff they did as kids, and stuff they do as adults: whitewater rafting, wilderness hiking, solo sailing, writing for Sports Illustrated, living in Thailand, traveling with a circus, building a house, or being good at sports; all the kinds of swell things I've never done and never will.

Still, I had my moment of smug self-satisfaction. It was a fleeting moment, because I immediately realized that even though the Noted Author (only two capital letters there, as opposed to a Very Famous Author, who is also included in this compilation) about whom I am about to rail made an egregious error in usage, an error which was not corrected in the apparently slap-dash editorial process (even though Esquire editors participated in the assembling of this collection; well, one of 'em submitted an anecdote, at least), he's still a Noted Author whose (error-laced) work is included in Noteworthy Compilations, while I remain a nobody and a nothing.

One of the stories centers around a young man attempting to wrench a bullet out of a casing in order to remove the gunpowder. Having difficulty, the lad goes to his father's workbench and fastens the shell in "the vice grip."

Perhaps there was more going on in that shed than puttering around with hand tools; from the context of the story, however, and the events which follow, it is evident that the protagonist clamped the shell in a viSe; most likely a bench viSe, not a viSe grip, which is a brand name for a particular style of locking pliers.

Vice: an evil, degrading, or immoral practice or habit.

Vise: A clamping device.

But who am I to be critiquing the word choice of Noted Authors of literature for young people? I'm not a published author. My work does not appear in anthologies compiled by other Noted Authors of literature for young people. I'm just some stupid guy who tries to teach 4th-graders to spell. Why should I bother, when Noted Authors of literature for young people don't know a vice from a vise, and when Noted Editors at Noted Publishing Concerns don't know or don't care or don't dare enough to notice the error or make the correction?

Okay, one teeny mistake. I have likely made significantly more than one grammar or usage error in this invective. But hey, I'm not a Noted Author of literature for young people. My stories are not included in volumes of inspirational prose for young readers. I own neither a vise nor Vice-Grips™. My experience with vice, too, is sadly limited.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
sjonsvenson
Feb. 1st, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC)
If you go playing with gunpowder and bullits ... it may well have been a vice grip. ^_~
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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