June 06, 2013

On Salads and Editorial Rigour

Here's an (abridged) email exchange that went on for the last week about a blog post I was editing:
ME: You appear to have left out a quote from The Corrections, about some salad or something. All there is in the post is a placeholder "QUOTE QUOTE QUOTE."

WRITER: Agh, Andrew, I know! I cannot for the life of me find that damn quote... But I know it's in the beginning of the book, so I've just been re-reading in the hopes that I'll get there in time!

ME: There is a line about a salad of green beans and walnuts, which I found while googling "Corrections Franzen salad." Not sure if that's what you wanted?

WRITER: Hmm. This one had more than green beans and walnuts—lots of good ole Midwestern mayo, at least. I'll keep looking...

ME: This is a hilarious problem for someone to have, by the way.

WRITER: Turns out it's a salad of water chestnuts and green peas (and lots of other stuff), which sounds a lot like the green beans and walnuts salad you found... Hmm! I couldn't find your same google results, so I can't be sure, but I just wanted to update you on the Salad Search...

ME: Also, I thought I'd let you know that I misquoted my Google results. It was green beans and HAZELNUTS. The plot thickens...
Anyway, just as I was getting ready to post this with a self-deprecating comment about the occasional ridiculousness of editorial work, I saw this tweet from Granta linking to an interview with Franzen himself, and mis-attributing a Mitch Hedberg quote to him. (Franzen does actually say it in the interview, but he's himself quoting Hedberg.)

Some other eagle-eyed reader had already pointed out the mistake, but Granta left the tweet up, and Franzen's publisher re-tweeted it—which in the grand scheme of things is not really a huge deal, I guess. But it struck me that, hey, given that it is so easy for little mistakes like that to spread these days, maybe Saladgate wasn't so ridiculous after all. So now when you go read the (hilarious) published post, rest assured that it has been double- and triple-checked. That really is a "salad".

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