Book review

I just love books, they are always a main feature of my birthday/Christmas gifts. One I received this year is Alysn Midgelow-Marsden’s new book on working with metals. I settled down with a cuppa to enjoy it and was immediately alarmed to read the dedication “I would like to acknowledgement the many people…..” – oh dear, I thought, that doesn’t augur well for proof-reading.
With advances in technology, self-published books are becoming more popular, and are particularly noticeable in the textile art world (well, that’s the one I inhabit, so that is what I have noticed – for all I know they are all the rage with the antique toy train collector set too). There is nothing wrong with self-published books per se, but it is important that basic standards aren’t disregarded in the process. In my view, that is what has happened with this book.
Basic proof-reading would have picked up straightforward typographical errors, including the one noted above. The author needs reporting to the apostrophe protection society – apart from two very doubtful instances on the cover there is a real clanger at the top of page 8, and assorted other superfluous examples. Like Joan, I found the conceit of using lines from Shakespeare’s sonnets (real, or imagined) highly irritating – it adds nothing.
Most of all the book would have benefited from the attention of a good editor. Some of the sentences are so long, and syntax so tortured I had to re-read them several times to understand what was being said. A good editor would also have known to use ‘complement’ instead of ‘compliment’, and someone with an eye for design and layout would have provided the much needed white space that Joan points out is missing. The book lacks a tight, logical structure. If you are new to using metals in textile work, this will be a confusing introduction. Copper curls are mentioned on page nine – in bold letters – I have no idea why, but aren’t illustrated until page 34.
Not all the pictures are captioned, so you aren’t always sure what you are looking at. I particularly noticed the lack of a suppliers list at the back – something commonly found in most books of this type. The only supplier mentioned is an English based company called Art Van Go, which I have heard of. But this is little use to Australian/NZ or North American readers, who, I am sure, would have appreciated a supplier in their neck of the woods. Then I realised that the book, which written by AMM is ‘in conjunction with’ the owner of Art Van Go.
On the positive side, I enjoyed being introduced to the work of other artists in the medium who I had not encountered before, and a couple of the resolved pieces appealed, partcularly the one called ‘on sea’s rich gems’. On balance, however, I didn’t feel that I got anymore from this book than I already had from Maggie Grey’s “Paper, Metal, Stitch” which suffers from none of the aforementioned shortcomings.

3 thoughts on “Book review”

  1. Hilary, I’m in complete accord with your comments about bad editing/proof reading. I’ve found this a problem with ‘proper published books’ (including some quite ‘classy’ novels), magazines and newspapers as well as self published books. I think there must be far too much reliance on spell-checkers these days, it’s much cheaper and quicker to run text through a spell-checker than pay a proof reader, but if you’ve used the wrong word and spelled it correctly, it doesn’t get picked up.

  2. I concur about spell checker! I haven’t written any books, but I do edit several newsletters, and one is for kids. I try to proof read several times, and I’m not against giving it to my youngest daughter to proofread. I especially want to make sure directions are easily understood by someone not familiar with the finished project. Bad grammer and spelling mistakes are my pet hates, and I’ve edited my kids high school and then uni essays for clarity several times. I hate seeing advertising signs using the wrong word, classic example “stationary store” where you buy pencils and pens. Gosh I hope it’s stationary, would be hard to catch up if it was on the move, LOL.Hooroo,Christine.

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