Grrr!

virgilio-dias-universitc3a1ria-2011-o-s-t-60-x-60Yes, Grrr!  It really has been one of those weeks.  I won’t take you through the whole tale of woe, but don’t think you’re getting away without the edited highlights.  Namely, the estimate for a new bed that turned out not even to be a good guess, the dripping radiator and then the seven hour wait for the gas man who was to mend it and who was supposed to cometh sometime between twelve and six only to eventually turn up at five past seven.

However, the most challenging bit of Grrr! this week came in the shape of a cloze procedure test that was the length of an entire book.  Do you remember cloze procedure from your days at school?  The most common form was a passage where every tenth word was deleted and you had to work out what that word was from the context.

So, for example, lifting a passage from one of my own recent posts, you might get something like this.

For no really good reason (i.e. I know nothing — his work and therefore don’t really have a right — have an opinion) I have always consigned Shute’s work — the internal shelf marked ‘romantic novels, not for me’.  —, when this turned up on the group list I — say I was particularly looking forward to reading it.  — wrong can you be?  It is, as one member — the group said, quite simply a good old fashioned —.  Shute doesn’t try to do anything clever with his —; he simply sets out to tell a first-class — about characters with whom the reader will be able —empathise.  I have spent the weekend laughing and crying — way first around the Malay peninsula during the Japanese —, then followed by the Australian outback in the years — after the Second World War and I can honestly — that I haven’t enjoyed a book so much for — long time.

I used to set this sort of exercise a lot when I was teaching just as long as the children were able to work in pairs and therefore had to be prepared to justify their decisions to someone else.  It’s fighting your corner that makes you think about the finer points of your choices.  But, over the last couple of days I have radically altered my view after being sent a download of a book where every instance of ff or fi or fl was missing.  Believe me, after working your way through three hundred plus pages of

she had clenched her sts so tightly her nails were digging into them.  ‘Stupid.’  She had thought the sweats senseless, but to submit to the dark rather than taste even the rst tide of suering was worse

cloze passages don’t seem like quite such a good idea after all.

I know it’s a privilege to be able to use NetGalley to read books before they have been officially released but some publishers do make life very difficult for you to write the review that is the condition of that privilege.  By the time I got to the end of this particular book I knew that I had forgotten various aspects from the beginning of the story simply because I had had to concentrate on the individual words rather than the overall tale the author was constructing.  It’s also very unfair to the writer because my reaction to their work is inevitably gong to be coloured by the difficulties I had reading it.

So, all in all a Grrr! week.  I just hope you all had a better one.

PS,  Jolyon Bear (he who looks after the money) let me buy the new bed, but he wasn’t happy.  He had a Grrr! week too.

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19 thoughts on “Grrr!

  1. I don’t remember those exercises from school, but I’ve seen them since, often in emails circulating. Was this something deliberate that the publisher or author did? or just a really, really bad proof-editing?
    I am sorry for your GRRRR week, and hope the coming one will be better. The change to daylight savings time here is making me rather GRRRRish – it’s been a week and I still feel maladjusted.

    1. Oh I know just how you feel about the change in the clocks, Lisa. It doesn’t happen here for another fortnight but I will be unliveable with for at least a week after it happens.

      I’m afraid this was just sloppy editing on the part of the publishers. I suppose I shouldn’t moan when I’m getting the book for free, but it really does annoy me.

  2. I’ve honestly never heart of “cloze procedure” before, never had it in any class from first grade through my doctorate,
    and by the sound of it don’t think I missed anything. It seems like an exercise in futility, because as you note with the missing ff’s, what fun or learning can come from reading something with things left out? I like much more the kind of test in which an instructor gives little-known excerpts from great writers and the students don’t get marks for identifying who it is, but for arguing their point of view adequately about who it might be, based upon the style, content, themes, etc. That, I feel, teaches real competency with texts. I don’t wonder that you’re frustrated, and to have that kind of reading in the midst of a week of other ordinary life stupidities such as you name–I say “Grrr!” for you!

  3. I remember doing similar exercises, though I don’t think I ever knew what they were called. I’m impressed that you managed to read more than three hundred pages of such a badly edited book! I’ve had problems with a few books from NetGalley, but nothing as bad as that – mainly just poor formatting.

    1. I’ve come across one other, Helen, which I simply refused to read, but this was by an author I really wanted follow through on. This was bad manners rather than bad formatting, I’m afraid.

  4. Sorry for all the grrs! Waiting for repair people is the worst kind of waiting there is. They never ever show up when they are supposed to. Grr. At least I hope the new bed is very comfortable.

  5. I never heard of cloze either, but could be interesting. However, on the missing ff etc, that happened to me this past week in a knitting pattern I wrote and have printed successfully many times. Every instance of ‘ff’ was gone, so cuff, was cu, and bind off, bind o. There are a surprising numbers of those doubles in a pattern. It must be related to an ‘upgrade’ is all i can think. I figured out a work around, but grrrr indeed. (Or should it be g , indeed.)

    1. The ff at the end of words was one of the things that worried me most, Marylou. There was a Dr called Dr Chu in this novel. Now was that an oriental Dr Chu or a European Dr Chuff? I puzzled over that for a long time.

  6. I find most of the fiction books on NG are usually not too bad – with the occasional exception like the one you struggled through. But the factuals drive me mad! Especially science books where they put them out for review without the graphs and diagrams. Since sometimes these are essential (especially for the non-scientists amongst us) it makes it almost impossible to understand much less review. I gave one up on the theory of relativity because it was full of things like ‘the graph shows how distance is affected by speed’ – and then no graph! Grrr!!! They got some very growly feedback on that one, I fear…

    1. That reminds me of an exam I once supervised for a colleague from a different department where the students were asked to respond to a map that hadn’t been included in the question. There was a rather more than grrring going on that day, I can tell you.

    1. If cloze is used judiciously it can be very revealing about a writer’s style, Jenny. The trouble is that like lot of educational tools it is too often used just to keep children quite for half an hour.

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