Footnote Joust

I’ve been reading a lot of Indie/Self-published books lately. Though the quality can vary, for the most part I don’t see a lot of terrible work. Most of the time if I’m left disappointed, it’s because it was a good story that needed just a little more work to be a great story. On the rare occasion when I do run into a really bad book, I’ve been very strict with myself enforcing my “do not finish the bad thing” rule. Life is too short, especially at my age, to read bad books.file000719730180

Recently, I was reading a book that was teetering on the edge of badness. It had lots of copy errors and some very strange and clunky grammar. The story beneath the writing issues was pretty good though, and I was determined to press on. Until I found the footnotes.

Footnotes are rare in fiction, though they can be delightful. See, for example Jonathon Stroud’s “Bartimaeus”. These footnotes were. . .not delightful, unless I am allowing the crueler side of my personality to come out. The author had evidently made edits based on customer reviews, and made footnotes to discuss these changes. In many cases, she hadn’t made changes; she’d simply argued that her text should stand as written. Most peculiar, especially since some of the changes she argued most fervently against were ones concerning the most basic rules of grammar, usage, mechanics & spelling.  Not exotic stuff like oxford commas. Basic stuff that no decent copy editor should let slip by.

We’ve all heard of authors arguing with reviews (not recommended!) but has anyone else come across critique rebuttal by footnote? Strange days indeed.

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