Sunday, January 03, 2010

well played, sir

Only two chapters in to "SuperFreakonomics," I had to put the book -- and the rest of my newly acquired reading pile -- aside. Once again, something else cut to the front of the line. Let me back up a bit.

A few years ago, Dr. Bill Bass partnered with writer Jon Jefferson to create a series of novels about the Body Farm and its fictional director, Dr. Bill Brockton. I have had the good fortune of interviewing the pair when each new book was released. In one of the stories -- I think it was the second one -- Dr. Brockton's truck was impounded and he had to use a different car. In a later chapter, he was driving the truck again. Off the air, I asked Jon about what I perceived as a discrepancy. He gave me a look that said "oh no!" and acknowledged that I had caught a mistake. He had gone back to add the plot point of the impounding but failed to change every single reference to Brockton's vehicle that followed. For the sake of humor (and accuracy), I had him make and initial a handwritten notation in my copy. In subsequent interviews and social meetings, Jon has always brought up my "eagle eye" attention to the detail in his book.

Dr. Bass recently held a lecture aboard the Volunteer Princess as a fundraiser for the William M. Bass III Forensic Anthropology Building. After the presentation, Dr. and Mrs. Bass and I made plans to go to lunch with my family during the week between Christmas and New Year's. We talked about science and about some additional ideas to raise money for the building fund. They were both very excited about the next book, "The Bone Thief," which will be published in March.

Coincidentally, my family and I had also been invited to a potluck party at Jon Jefferson's house this past week to celebrate his new marriage. When he and his wife met my children, he brought up the story of me finding the error in "Flesh and Bone." This time, however, he added that he had a proposition. How would I like to proofread the new book? The catch was that I would have to read fast. Any corrections would be due by Monday, January 4th. I quickly accepted the offer and Jon gave me a large envelope stuffed with 362 sheets of copy paper. As I read the excellent book-to-be, I realized what Jon had done. If a small continuity error slips by and gets published in "The Bone Thief," it will be my fault!

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Blogger Meaghan said...

This sentence is missing a word: "The catch was that I would have read fast."

Please correct and initial immediately.

Blogger Cassie said...

Hey Frank did you happen to pass the Secret City book on to Dr Bass that I gave you ?

Blogger Cassie said...

BTW "eagle eye" you have a boo boo in your post :o)
The catch was that I would have read fast.

Blogger Frank Murphy said...

D'oh! You both caught me. That's what I get for writing in haste at Panera Bread on the way home.

Cassie, through a comedy of errors we were 10 minutes late for our lunch with Dr. & Mrs. Bass. I ended up rushing home from work and leaving your book behind. Fail! I expect both he and Jon to come in for an interview soon and I will rectify the situation.


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