The Editor’s Apprentice

Posted: November 14, 2011 in McBride family madness
Tags: , , ,

My thirteen-year-old son is currently reading Conan The Barbarian by Robert E. Howard.  He (Declan, not Conan) says, “I like the Conan stories, but whenever someone is amazed in them, Robert Howard always writes ‘Their mouth was shaped in an ‘oh’ of amazement.  And he does it all the time, in nearly every story, the same description, so you get a mental picture like this…”  Declan pulls a face that looks both disturbingly and hilariously like the perfect circle ‘oh’ of an inflatable rubber doll’s mouth.

“It’s really annoying!” Declan concludes.

Ah, parenthood…most of the time it’s an uphill slog, but every now and again there are these moments where you get a parental surge of pride; that’s my boy, my little editor’s apprentice.

  1. Al Harron says:

    That’s strange: in all the 21 completed stories, I’ve only found a single instance of the “O” metaphor, in “The Pool of the Black One.” It’s an “O of surprise,” not “amazement.” What book is this you’re referring to?

    • Gah. Now this is what happens when you rely on a thirteen-year-old’s hyperbole to inspire a blog post…
      The edition he is reading purports to be “The original, unabridged adventures of the world’s greatest fantasy hero.” First published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in 2009, it only contains 16 stories. You are right; when it does crop up (and it’s nowhere near as prevalent as he made it out to be), it’s not specifically a description of an amazed expression; for example, “The Slithering Shadow” has “her red lips parting in a shocked O”.
      All of the above could take the discussion off in several tangents. Number one could be – the dubious wisdom of making flippant remarks about texts without checking it out for oneself first, particularly when said texts are still hugely popular several decades after being written.
      Number two – just how much do successive editors mess with classic texts in different editions, especially when the author is no longer alive to set them straight?

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