But what love affair can survive a typographical error? What if Robert Browning had begun his famous letter, "I love your vorses with all my heart, Miss Barrett"? The disgust on the part of the recipient could be exceeded only by the shame of the sender. And so it is that I can barely bring myself to retype the headline of my recent review of Marilynne Robinson's lovely new book, Gilead, as it appeared in this publication: "Where Have You Gone, Mrs. R? She's Still Meloncholy After All These Years." Thank you, Stranger books editor Christopher Frizzelle.
A typo infects everything around it with its own viral stupidity. Mr. Frizzelle's misguided "o" exposed what was already a dangerously precious headline-subhead combo as being, in truth, a lazy pairing of cheap Paul Simon references that deadline-oppressed editors have been falling back on for decades, and added to it a noxious echo of the Smashing Pumpkins. The review that followed could be nothing but a wretched afterthought.
I have swooned over the work of Ms. Robinson for nearly two decades. I moved to Seattle in part because she had once done the same. But she only writes a novel every quarter century, and I am no longer a young man. It pains me to realize that I have blown my chance with her. Or let me rephrase that: Stranger books editor Christopher Frizzelle has blown my chance with her. Words were all we had, Mr. Frizzelle, and I regret that you have robbed us even of those.