Friday, August 24, 2007

A remarkable bird is the pelican...

I've grown accustomed to receiving notes from nitpicky readers. These are the ones that typically go something like: "Enjoyed your last book, but on page 47, when Zack is talking to Barbara Pickering, he says 'The wombats can go with you and I.' It should be 'The wombats can go with you and me,' since 'with' is a preposition and ..."

While I appreciate the crusade for good grammar, some folks just have way too much time on their hands.

But every now and then a reader comes forth with a legitimate bone to pick. Such was the case the other day when a friend of mine, Wendy Ahl, asked me to meet her dad, Bill Weller, for a cup of coffee and sign some copies of BERMUDA SCHWARTZ. Bill visits Bermuda often and wanted to give the books to some friends on an upcoming visit. So we sit down at Palmano's, my favorite coffee shop, and Bill begins by saying: "You know, I really enjoyed your book, but on page ..."

Oh no, I thought, here we go. The grammar police strike again.

But not this time. Bill flipped to page 132, pointed to the fourth paragraph and said: "Read that." The section in question takes place when Zack and Boggy have driven down the coast of Bermuda, to Tucker's Town, and are standing on a bluff where the squirrely Brewster Trimmingham, who has stolen $2 million from Zack, wants to build a bunch of condos. Zack looks down on a cove with gorgeous water where sea fans wave atop coral heads and "Pelicans dive bomb schools of fish."

"OK," I said after reading the passage. "So what?"

Bill Weller smiled.

"There are no pelicans in Bermuda," he said. "Every now and then, one might get blown way off course, but there are no pelicans in Bermuda."

These are the moments that drive writers nuts. You do your research on the big stuff (in this case, the history of Bermuda, shipwrecks, money laundering, the search for the True Cross, etc.) and then someone pulls the rug out from under you on an ornithological slip-up. I have since conducted some independent research regarding pelicans in Bermuda (yes, maybe I'm the one with too much time on my hands) and have discovered that there are eight species of pelicans worlwide and two of them, the white pelican and the brown pelican, "occur" in Bermuda. But apparently they do not occur in such great numbers that a bunch of them would gather in a cove and dive-bomb schools of fish.

I'll take it like a man. Mea culpa, mea culpa ...

And I offer this rendition of a famous poem:

A remarkable bird is the pelican
Its beak holds more than its belican
It can store in its beak
Enough food for a week
But in Bermuda? No way in helican.


Anonymous said...


Excellent posting, great poem. However, I thought the self portrait was the best part of the entire production!

Kristy Kiernan said...

Tell everyone it's the copyeditor's fault. You originally had "petrel" and the idiot made you change it. (Evidently I'm not much for "taking it like a man.")

Bob Morris said...

Kristy -- The St. Martin's copy editors have saved my butt so often in the past that I could never heap blame on them.

As for taking it like a man, I suppose that could have numerous connotations. I was not referring to any that involve bending over...

JD Rhoades said...

(Evidently I'm not much for "taking it like a man.")

I am SO not touching that straight line.

Kristy Kiernan said...

What on earth made you think it was a straight line? :-D Jeez, I spoon feed you people this stuff, the least you can do is run with it!

Bob, of course you're right, and a fine upstanding man you are. Feel free to heap blame upon me.

Anonymous said...

Well I think that might be a bit true. Everyone has a bit of deep truth in them that isn't really visible at most times. But hey what can I say.. Do we Really want to know the absolute truth about Everyone?? Sometimes, the inner secrets of a person should remain unknown, of course if they harm no body. I do think that stories though, are entertaining whether they are positive or negative, because they depict a 'kodak moment' in time that tells a story. You're right, everybody loves a story or two, so why not imagine your life a big story and be a great story teller!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Sildenafil Citrate said...

I hear ya! the pelican is a remarkable bird indeed, one of my favorite birds and after I saw the drawing I remembered a cartoon I saw when I was a child, the Pelican Friend, it was not good, but the pelican was so funny!

Anonymous said...

Just reading your book on my ipad. Knew there were no Pelicans in BDA as I read the line. Glad your post popped up on Google as I ddi my verification search. You should have used the Longtail.
Have you been to the bar at the MOC? tell Joe I said hello next time you are there.

Bob Morris said...

Hey Anon: Yeah, I shoulda used the Longtail. Next time I set a book in Bermuda I'll try to remember that.

Not sure what you're referring to re: the bar at MOC and Joe. But I am always striving to expand my bar knowledge, so please advise. And thanks for reading my stuff