doubt

Over the course of the six or so years since my parents first gifted my New Yorker subscription, the magazine has only grown in stature to me as the gold standard of fine reporting and editing. Week after week, it arrives in my mail, representing a distant dream of one day penning a humble “Talk of the Town” column to share the pages with the likes of Ben McGrath or Hendrik Hertzberg. In reality, the best I could ever hope for is probably a menial job pushing their impeccable prose online in weekly installments.

A few weeks ago, as I read yet another article that was so well written, I would have kept reading no matter what the subject matter (it happened to be about a video game creator), I stopped mid-lunch bite when I hit the ninth paragraph, halfway down. “No way,” I thought, and read it again. Stunned, I raised my hand and proclaimed loudly to no one in particular, “I found a typo in the New Yorker!”

I ran over to my colleagues to confirm it, forcing them to read and re-read this paragraph with no context until they saw it too. I was speechless, unsure of what this discovery meant — was I becoming that good of an editor, or had the stringent copyediting process at the New Yorker suffered a major dysfunction?

I read this week’s issue with the same devotion as always, but as I make my way through the opening pages, I find myself questioning the syntax. Now that it is here, my doubt is not so quick to leave.

The Grammar of Fun,” November 3, 2008 (online version with error corrected)

Leave a Reply