June 23rd, 2004

Roadkill

Winter's Ta...

Consider the lowly page number. It's not something one often thinks about when reading a book, at least not unless the book is incredibly boring and you're constantly calculating the pages left until the end. Occasionally it will stand out boldly from the text, a design decision made for who knows what reason, but usually it's down at the bottom of the page somewhere, in a small, lightweight font, unobtrusively waiting for someone to notice it. But folks rarely do when they're engrossed in the story.

That is, no one notices until confronted with an unfinished sentence at the bottom of one page, and the start of a completely different paragraph at the top of the next. Oh, it may take a couple of confused readings, and a "What the..." before one finally thinks to check the page numbers, but soon enough one does. In the case at present, my copy of Winter's Tale skips from page 292 to page 325. An entire folio is missing. One moment Hardesty is heading for the boarding house across from the Coheeries Theatre on his first night in New York, and the next he's pining for Virginia (I'm pretty sure it's Virginia the character he's pining for, and not the state, but who knows, given that I'm missing thirty-two pages...). I checked to see if perhaps the folios were accidently bound out of order, but no such luck. It ain't there. Bother.

I've had similar happen a couple of times before. There was one thriller I bought a few years back that was accidently bound with the same folio twice, with the first instance replacing the folio that should've been there. Fortunately, I'd purchased it shortly before, so I was able to bring it back for a good copy. No such luck this time. This book was a Christmas gift my mother gave me the year it came out. It's been on my TBR pile for a long time.

I have to admit, given the nature of the book, that I had a brief thought that it was done purposely, that Helprin decided to mess with the world as experienced by the reader just as he was messing with the world as experienced by his characters. If true, there will be a book flinging. I'm pretty sure it's just a publisher's error, though.

It's a pity, because I'm really interested in just what the frell is going on. We're introduced to Hardesty, and then plopped into the middle of a Daffy Duck cartoon when he meets up with Jesse Honey. Then we're back to a New York state in which there's a place where no town in a hundred miles in any direction. Really, he's making it up as he goes.
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    abridged