Editorial October 2012
Our Pals (aka Reviewers)
Full disclosure: not every Choice reviewer would consider his or her Choice editor a “pal.” But in point of fact all we editors enjoy cordial relationships with our reviewers, albeit relationships for the most part limited to e-mail. Editors and reviewers of course correspond regularly about matters pertaining to assignments, but some of this correspondence results in exchanging information of an extracurricular nature. I asked my fellow editors for examples of these palships, with the following results.
Reference editor Carolyn Wilcox has a London-based reference reviewer pal whose specialties are geographical in nature--atlases, maps, digital mapping, geographic information systems, that sort of thing. In the course of exchanging e-mails about reviews, Carolyn mentioned to the reviewer that she periodically travels to London, whereupon the reviewer offered Carolyn a behind-the-scenes tour of the British Library, in particular the cartographic and topographic materials section. Carolyn has yet to take the reviewer up on the offer, but she assures me she will.
One of Fran Graf’s regular economics reviewers began doing research on the economics of wine and eventually wrote a book on the subject. The reviewer having become an expert on the subject, Fran of course began to assign the reviewer books on wine and the reviewer went public, acknowledging her on a blog post for supporting his research and interests. Further evidence--Fran points out--of how Choice reviewing intersects with reviewers’ scholarly work beyond Choice.
And then there’s history editor Lisa Mitten, who has a reviewer who writes about Iroquois history and brings her up to date about the Tonawanda Seneca Reservation in New York. Turns out Mitten (as we call her) and the reviewer know the same people there, and some of those people are Mitten’s relatives. Talk about a small world.
Science editor Georgia Scura has a Connecticut-based biology reviewer who is a specialist in caves, paleontology, insects, and especially bats. Who doesn’t love a “bat scholar” pal?! As a result of her frequent correspondence with this reviewer, Georgia has learned a lot about bats. She has also learned a lot about the natural history of Connecticut. Herself a hiker, Georgia has trudged the very turf with which the reviewer is particularly familiar. When the reviewer told Georgia about a (little-known) geology trail he’d created in a local state park, she immediately strapped on her rucksack and headed out.
Me, not so keen on hiking, never mind bats. But grammar, etymology, words in general--now that’s fascinating stuff. Did you know there’s a word for the !? (aka ?!) punctuation mark? It’s an interrobang--see Merriam-Webster’s--which I didn’t know until my Oregon-based linguistics reviewer told me. If only to have been a fly on the wall in the class in which the reviewer and his students discussed whether “there could be a subtle difference between !? and ?!” This same reviewer has embarked on a year-long project to coin a word a day. (Most of us have encountered a twalker, most of us have been begoogled.) How cool is that!?/?!--Rebecca Ann Bartlett