Pulp Friction

As writers we are told constantly to write, rewrite and edit rigorously. I’m sure this blog post will make the merits of such advice obvious.

Due to a rather unfortunate printing error Penguin Books Australia has pulped a run of its cookbook, the Pasta Bible. According to the news section of the Penguin Books Australia website:

At Penguin every book is proofread at least twice, depending on its complexity. In this case it is clear that a spell-check error crept in, the recipe incorrectly suggesting the addition of salt and freshly ground black people instead of freshly ground black pepper. Normally such an error would be picked up by proof readers, but they would have been concentrating on checking quantities, a common source of error in cookbooks. Penguin would also like to point out that it maintains the highest of standards throughout the editing process, hence a mistake such as this is a very rare occurrence. Obviously though, editors are human and even the best and most professional will at times overlook an error.

While this is clearly an unintended term of phrase it did remind me of something equally morbid – and apparently true. In Jadoo, John A. Keel documents his adventures in the Middle East and the Orient in search of Jadoo (real magic). He writes:

Four hundred years ago you could buy “Egyptian Mummy” in any apothecary. It was a coveted cure-all during the Middle Ages. Ground-up bodies hauled out of Egyptian crypts were considered good for everything from a hangtail to a knife wound. For this reason hundreds of priceless tombs were rifled by profit-hungry merchants, and undoubtedly many records and relics of immense historical value were stolen or destroyed. Eventually the heavy traffic in mummies exhausted the supply, so the merchants had to start manufacturing more.

So the next time your pasta seems a little bland, or your medicine has a terrible aftertaste, or you realise you’ve spelt ‘possession’ wrong, just think – it could be worse…

1 comment… add one
  • You know, I’ve heard of people losing their jobs over even the most minor typographical errors and it makes me incredibly sad when that happens. I really hope no one decides to assume it’s some really disturbing Freudian slip, and that most people just find it funny.

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