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Book review — Dead tree alert


Michael Andre edited with Erika Rothenberg The Poets’ Encyclopedia so he knows some things about reference books. Here’s his review of the Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists

Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists

I congratulate Ann Lee Morgan on this huge book. Of course, Oxford University Press used a computer spell check rather than a proof reader. The resulting typos are tricky because the wrong word appears rather than a mere misspelling. No doubt the contract stipulates Ms Morgan is to blame for such typos.

But more grievously the print is simply too small; and the book is therefore unreadable. My copy spits some more at the printer’s art: the cover has been clipped by the shears of some mighty press. A friend who was for twenty years the managing editor of a mid-sized Manhattan publisher told me she would have been fired if she had accepted a book with the cover so clipped by printers. She didn’t need to open it.

There are, in any case, no illustrations.

Are they thinking of selling the online version? I’m sorry, I prefer books which are books. I can only try to read this book using the magnifying glass which came with the condensed and unreadable Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, another Oxford University Press fiasco. The Brits think they’re so damn clever. What a terrible waste of paper! This is how a people loses its empire.