Chip’s Asleep at the Wheel

More journalistic endeavors later. For now, the NYT book coverage has me very concerned. Eurotrash is the NYT takedown queen, but I knows bad grammar whens I sees it.

From this Michael Kazin review:

“Susan Jacoby regrets in her new book” — Is that the only way Jacoby regrets? Through tomes?
“zealous Protestants secured laws to ban the sale of alcohol, erotic literature and diaphragms” — As opposed to executing them? I secure my pants and the Xmas tree on top of the car, thank you very much.
“the teaching of Darwinian theory in public schools” — Christ, why not just “teaching Darwinism in public schools?”
“Ms. Jacoby concludes her book with a shudder” — Too bad she didn’t conclude with a docey doe or a pirouette. That would have been something.
“Her title was shrewdly chosen.” Thank you, Tom Swifty.
“But parochial schools were originally established to provide an alternative to public ones where students routinely learned only the virtues of the Reformation and recited from the King James Version of the Bible, commissioned by a Protestant monarch.” Two icky adverb-verb combos in one sentence? WTF, Chip?
“religion is just a stew of unprovable myths.” Well, start cutting up those potatoes.

Kazin, incidentally, is writing a biography of William Jennings Bryan. A match made in heaven if you ask me.

Katie Zezima fares better, but not by much.

“A bar by the railroad tracks is named Casey’s” — Active voice?
“The 289 residents of Mudville” — Again, a voice that is more active?
“What is true is that Thayer” — What is true is that you don’t need anything before “Thayer.”
“Thayer went but soon returned to Worcester and wrote” — Well, make up your mind, Thayer. Three past tense verbs in nine words?
“A stadium is planned for the site where Casey is said to have played.”
— A copy editor is planned for the essay that Katie is said to have written.

Where the hell’s Tanenhaus?


  1. >the Mudville sandwich: corned beef, sauerkraut,
    >Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.

    Manny’s Deli in Chicago serves a great Mudville sandwich. For some reason they insist on calling it a “Reuben.”

  2. No, no, my dear Jones of the Golden Rule. You should know by now that we are sophisticatedly speaking, and that a Reueben is said to be a Mudville sandwich only sometimes. Tut tut, it’s the NY Times.

  3. Tanenhaus doesn’t take over till the 12th, I thought. And even then, I’ll bet we won’t see his “stamp” on the NYTBR for a few weeks afterwards, what with the lag rate on commission to publication.

    That being said, I hate it when the Passive Voice Meter (TM) explodes, as it did many times whilst reading these passages. Oh wait, there goes the PVM again…

  4. Plus, does Tanenhaus even get to exercise control over the daily reviews? Shouldn’t we just be blaming Keller or Erlanger for this?

    But, yeah, whoever thought “A bar by the railroad tracks is named Casey’s” was better than, say, “There’s a bar by the railroad tracks named Casey’s” should be shot, unless there’s some rule against “There is” in the NYT, which I don’t think there is.

  5. I researched the Casey story for an essay recently, and this is the first I’ve heard about him returning to Worcester and writing Casey there. The sources I read had him writing it at the Examiner, then quitting his post and returning East.

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