Initially, this post won't at all seem relevant to the title... but bear with me. And fair warning to you, this is a rant.
As a public librarian, I am expected to be familiar with all kinds of authors of popular (and not-quite-as-popular) fiction. One of the things I find more difficult to learn is "North Carolina Authors." When I say that, what I mean is that we put a special sticker to go on the spine of a book that says "NC," thereby notifying our patrons that this author lives in North Carolina, and often (though not in the case of, say, Orson Scott Card and David Drake) the book is set in NC, or at the very least, in the South.
This is pretty easy with authors like Jan Karon, Clyde Edgerton, and Nicholas Sparks, as they are way famous. Of course, I think Sparks actually lives in SC, but whatever.
Well, actually... back up. The Sparks issue is relevant to my rant. So where do we draw the line between NC authors and "other?" Do they just have to live here? Orson Scott Card is a resident of Greensboro. I have a friend there who worked at the wonderful independent bookstore, Atticus Books, for eleven years before the Big & Nasty moved in and closed them down. She said that when Card would come into the store, he would complain if he were shelved with the NC authors because his genre/style is so different. And he does have a point. So what exactly DOES it mean to be a North Carolina author?
So the other day, I went searching other libraries' sites to see who was on THEIR NC author lists. Greensboro Public Library had a very interesting list, and on it was Omar Tyree. Surprise! I had no idea Tyree had ties to NC at all. Well, gosh darn it... now I had to research a little further...
Tyree is a popular African American author today and he lives in Charlotte. Although I admit I have not yet read his stuff (but do intend to), his writing generally falls into the "Urban Lit" or the hard-core violent stories of life on the streets of the big city. In other words, from what I can tell, his characters do drugs, have sex, and kill each other. I really don't think Charlotte qualifies as "big city," although I'm sure that stuff happens there. I'm still fairly sure his books aren't set there. And I don't think he's originally from NC, although I'm not sure.
You may not guess it based on what I just said, but actually, I love Omar Tyree. He brings readers into our library that we may not otherwise see. They love him, and Zane, and Eric Jerome Dickey, and they are VORACIOUS. (Many of his readers also like Laurell K. Hamilton, which is why I really want to try his stuff). So now that I discover he lives in Charlotte I say to myself, "COOL... I can sticker his books with that big NC and people will be so excited to know he's from here... he's 'one of us.'"
So, like a good librarian, I went to the internet to verify my new knowledge. The first place I went is the official Omar Tyree website. It's hip, it's clearly done by his peeps (or maybe him directly) and there is a link to his bio! Jackpot!
So I learn he went to Howard and that he is married and lives in Charlotte, and THEN, dear readers, I see something that will finally bring us back to the title of my little essay here.
In letters that type themself out over and over in red at the bottom of the page (go ahead... hit the link here and scroll to the bottom) I read:
Teach your children the importance of a good education (hmmm.. I think to myself... that is nice)
Take time out of your busy schedule and read to them daily. (Nifty, says I. I like this guy even more...)
And then the third line unveils itself for me, and much to my horror, I read:
Encourage them to excell in eduction and other positive activities
I almost had a seizure. Perhaps you do not notice the errors in that last line, as my husband did not. Or perhaps you just think I typed the line wrong and you are wondering why I didn't proofread. But no, I typed for you verbatim what appears at the bottom of Omar Tyree's "About Me" page. Oh!! And just below that... "Promoting Literacy in our community." Adding insult to injury, n'est-ce pas?
Perhaps you are familiar with the joke about the Pandas and the ever important comma in the punchline (see title of this post). It is also the name of a very popular book that I am finally getting around to reading about the "Lost Art of Punctuation." And although the book is primarily about punctuation (if you get past the glaring spelling error above, you will notice that there is no period at the end of the sentence), it is also about basic grammar and spelling errors.
Now, I am not claiming to be perfect. I do make spelling and grammar and punctuation errors. I freely admit that I abuse ellipses far more than a reasonable person should... However, when you are "Promoting Literacy" and especially when you are also a PROFESSIONAL WRITER, and certainly if you are going to put it in FLASHING TYPEFACE (something that should NEVER be done, incidentally -- flashing typeface is ALMOST as bad as CAPITALIZING a bunch of WORDS in a BLOG), then for the sake of all that is good and holy in this universe, spell check the damn thing. I mean REALLY!!!
It reminds me of a flyer I once tore down from the bulletin board of my dorm in college telling women to come to a forum about how we should rise up from our subordination in society and "CHALLANGE" ourselves. Great God Almighty, how wrong is that?! In trying to get us to rise above, you have set us back 500 years or so. Geez! Maybe I am subordinate, but I can SPELL at least. Spelling geeks of the world, untie!