Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Problem of Reviewers Who Can't Do Their Jobs Properly

Got a largely ok review of my book this morning from Michael Portantiere (who was fired some time ago as the editor of, but as usual (and why, I would imagine, he was fired) he makes some stumbles. Omitting the name of the author -- or only using the last name of the author in the penultimate graph -- is pathetic and churlish and silly.

And I had to send an email this morning to someone above Michael to at least note his mistakes, not that they surprised me. This is a guy who once sent me an ominous email warning me in no uncertain terms that I shouldn't mention in public or private conversation. I actually sent him an email back reminding him of what the U.S. Constitution says about freedom of speech and that perhaps it is him who ought to shut it.

(The fact is, questions about Michael's professionalism are not unknown to the business. On All That Chat on was a brief thread about him last week that wisely was removed. Stuff like that, out of discretion, really doesn't belong in the public square.)

MP suggests there are "some omissions and mistakes" in my text, then cites a few examples -- three. Regarding Charley's Aunt, for example, the three actors are, despite what he writes, very clearly identified; the spelling of the man's name in the middle of the photograph has several variations and his birth and death dates are unknown. That's not a mistake or omission. That's where the research led me.

MP also says that my text for Outward Bound is in error, but it is not. The actors are not noted by the Billy Rose Theatre Division on the reverse side of the image (if he doesn't believe me, let him go there and look at the photo), but my text does state who was in the production.

MP also says my text for Of Thee I sing is identified unclearly; there, yes, we did not get into who starred in the show but the information is correct.

Given that the book contains upward of 3,000 names and dates, this is pretty picky, no?

And I think if MP's going to suggest there's a "whopper of a grammatical error" in the paragraph on Nazimova, shouldn't he say what it is?

At the end of the day, I simply consider the source.

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