Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Oops a Blooper!

What do you do when you come across a blooper in a book?



There I was immersed in Rosie Thomas' The Kashmir Shawl when I came across this sentence:

"I shall order the tickets for Chandigarh."

Chandigarh! I did a double-take. Read the sentence again. Cleaned my glasses and read it yet again. There was no doubt, the tickets were for Chandigarh.

What is so great about it, you might ask? Chandigarh is one of the loveliest cities of India and many people visit it. Only this, the Welsh Missionary couple about to make their way to Chandigarh do so in the year 1941 and Chandigarh was built during the 1950s!!!  I don't know how people used to reach Leh (the ultimate destination of the couple) during the British Raj but it surely could not have been via Chandigarh.

As far as the story goes, it is not a major issue. Chandigarh is merely a stopover for the couple as they make their way to the upper reaches of the Himalayas but somehow I find myself unable to move beyond it. Had it not been something I was aware of, I would have just skimmed over it but since this is something I know, I find myself returning to it repeatedly. It has made me wary of the book.

Has it happened to you too? What do you think of factual inaccuracy in Period Novels/ Historical Fiction? Does it spoil the book for you? How does one move beyond it? Do share.

11 comments:

  1. It's an excellent question and one I haven't answered yet. I find many mistakes related to the use of German in books and other places...
    I'm sure most people don't see it and don't care but I find it sloppy and, yes, I think lesser of the author/editor. But not when there is just one mistake. that can happen. It shouldn't but it can. Maybe a note to the editor? Or the author?

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    1. Thanks Caroline for replying. Yes, if one is unaware of certain things (facts or language) than one is just going to accept what the author has written. And I am sure Germany has had its share of misrepresentation (perhaps deliberate too).

      Thinking of sending a mail to Thomas.

      Delete
  2. As you know I write a slightly quirky mad blog, the diary of my life and although I use facts and reality to create it these are distorted and elaborated upon. I dont think this sort of error matters unless the book is written as fact.

    It would take for ever to research things otherwise.

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    1. Yes Rob, the novel can be taken merely as a construct.

      And your blog... well how can I forget that delightful piece on the Pineapple Pagoda of Persia. :)

      Delete
  3. Dear Blogger,

    I have sent messages to authors a couple of times. Once it was to James Rollins and I did get a reply. Of course, as Rob has pointed out in his comment, an error should not matter that much in fiction.

    The other time, I had written to Greg Mortenson about an error in "Three Cups of Tea". He had mentioned that Mother Teresa passed away in 2000. However, I remembered that it was 1997. I did not receive a reply about that.

    - Nitu

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    1. Dear Reader

      Getting Mother Teresa's dates wrong is a major blooper. It is like Priyanka Chopra declaring that Mother Teresa was the one person she wanted to emulate when asked who was her role model amongst people still alive.

      Nothing wrong with it except that Mother Teresa was already dead and gone. And Chopra still got the Miss World crown. Beauty with Brains.

      What was the error in Rollins' book?

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    2. Rollins had confused Lord Shiva with Vishnu Ji or vice-versa.

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    3. You Chhupa Chhupa Rustam. Never even a whiff that you were writing such a lovely blog.

      Delete
    4. I did a Blooper right on your Blooper entry by putting in my profile.

      And, now you have told everyone.

      Delete
  4. I think a lot of it depends on the seriousness of the blooper. As a very computer literate person, shows like CSI annoy me. They annoy people in forensics too, I imagine. But, I expect this is a minority opinion and a lot of people enjoy the show. Not knowing Chandigarh was built in the late 40s and early 50s seems to be a minor issue. As an author, I try not to use specific landmarks in my books but when you dealing with a journey and cities, I'm sure that is impractical.

    If I were the author, I would term the work as a historical fiction set in a slightly altered reality. All bloopers are now features!

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    1. Thanks Peter for visiting and replying.

      Haven't watched CSI much. Perhaps just a couple of episodes (or was it NCSI?) Rather liked them because the mystery seemed decent.

      It is a minor issue in the novel and I guess however hard you might research about a particular period there are things that will slip thru.

      Guess the caveat of 'altered reality' would help many.

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