In the blogs game, it is the editor’s duty to protect the writer; it’s axiomatic that if a blog sucks mondo butt, the greatest fault is that of whoever greenlit and edited it.
This is not simply for reasons of principle or niceness or whatever. Even a big-time jerk editor, if they are good at their job, will try to protect the writer from the shame and embarrassment of a crappy blog, the publication of which is a twofold blight upon the publication: Readers will think of it as a place that publishes crappy blogs, and self-respecting writers will think of it as a place whose editors cannot be trusted. The editor’s sacrosanct duty, that is to say, is to the precious blogs ecosystem; whatever other good might be done by protecting the writer, it is good for the blog soil.
Book excerpts are an exception to this. The book already exists. It is the finished product of (and a reflection upon the editors in) some whole other publishing process. The blogs editor might abridge portions of it for the sake of length and clarity—for the sake of blog prerogatives, that is—but they cannot tinker more than cursorily with the writing itself. Moreover, the blog’s editor has no control over and is not responsible for whether a book available for excerpting sucks mondo butt, but only for whether a good blog can be gotten out of excerpting it. Again, in the game of blogs, the editor’s sacred duty is to blogs, not to books.
Australian life consultant (?) Amanda Trenfield’s book, about the important and inspiring life-lessons she learned from getting mega-horny for some dude at a conference dinner she attended with her husband, is probably pretty brutal. It is written like this:
Throughout the dinner, I was my usual animated and conversational self. I was, after all, in sales. The group chatted happily, all of us enjoying an excellent degustation of West Australian delicacies cooked with attention and pride.
And like this:
Over the course of the evening, my attraction to Jason developed. I soon became aware of his every breath and I unconsciously mirrored his pace. I caught myself, embarrassingly, looking at his chest through his slim-fitted white evening shirt. Yes, he had a fit, toned and attractive body, but was it his chest I was drawn to?
When dessert was served, he offered me a sample of his decadent and oozy chocolate pudding. I declined, but he scooped up a generous spoonful and fed me across the table anyway.
And like this:
The next few days were a complete blur. I couldn’t make any sense of my feelings. I couldn’t escape unrelenting thoughts of Jason. I certainly couldn’t fathom how I’d resume my normal life: a full-time career in financial services, the care of two young children, household chores, social engagements, being a wife. What I did understand was that the successful, comfortable and somewhat predictable life I had spent 20 years building was now of no consequence. I simply didn’t care.
This is psycho shit. An excellent degustation? West Australian delicacies? Simply no longer caring about your family because some beguiling weirdo at a conference wouldn’t take no for an answer when he offered you a scoop of chocolate pudding?
All of the above, and more, came from an excerpt of Trenfield’s book, published a little over a week ago in the Sydney Morning Herald under the headline, “Less than a month after I met my soulmate, I ended my 14-year marriage.” The writing is excruciating, the author self-evidently deranged. This book, I am precisely 1,000-percent sure, is enjoyable only and entirely for reasons sharply different from those intended by its author.
Does that mean that the excerpt is bad? No! The excerpt, remember, is not a book. The excerpt is a blog. And the blog ends like this:
That is incredible, A-plus joke construction. Whoever made this editing decision—to end the excerpt on the revelation that the author blew up her family to be with the pudding-insister, and then to follow that immediately with the title of her book—is a genius. A titan of the blogs game.