In an entry on his Macleans blog from earlier this month, Brian Bethune laments the lapses of grammar in a number of recent Canadian books, using the multiple mistakes found in the Giller-nominated DeNiro’s Game by Rawi Hage as an example. He also references mistakes in Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, and Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce’s Enter the Babylon System. Proving that the issue is not limited to one poor editing team, Bethune’s three examples are published by different companies: House of Anansi, Penguin Canada, and Random House Canada respectively. (It should be noted that Bethune would have read Wikinomics and Babylon System from advance reading copies, so his criticisms may be premature.)
While Quillblog agrees with Bethune’s assertion that grammar matters, many general readers may just say that they know what the authors mean. The line between the relaxed grammar of conversation and formal grammar of the printed word is blurring. As far as Bethune’s distinction between the sliding scale of grammatical correctness for fiction and non-fiction, Quillblog would like to argue for the emotional impact of non-fiction texts. The power of a book on climate change, AIDS, or American foreign policy, to name a few hot topic examples, may be based on grammatically sound, clearly communicated statistics, but meaning and emotion outweigh any dangling modifier.