Register Friday | April 19 | 2024

Flub Free

Maisonneuve loves Taddle Creek's Guidebook to Fact-checking Fiction

Balzac, for all the "reality" in his "realist" novels, has become legendary not just for his writing, but for the nearly endless stream of factual errors he made therein. Unbeknownst to him, the French author has given birth to a veritable mini-industry of academics devoted to finding, noting and explaining these flubs. If Toronto-based literary journal Taddle Creek had been around in 19th-century Paris, all those footnote-scribblers might have been out of work. This past summer, the Taddle Creek staff released a slim, handsome volume titled The Taddle Creek Guidebook to Fact-Checking Fiction that aims to prevent factual errors that it claims are endemic in novels and short stories. Addressed to the editorial workers of magazines, journals and book publishers, the sixteen-page booklet cites several examples to illustrate how embarrassing— and avoidable—such errors can be. "Unless there's a purposeful reason, you likely don't want a character in a story walking down a street in 1984 listening to an iPod, or someone in 1991 reminiscing about a Toronto Blue Jays' World Series win." But the guide doesn't stop there. It also notes how all inconsistencies must be questioned, all spellings looked-up and how writers must be recruited into the process. In short, this is a plucky, amusing and thorough guide that belongs on every writer's shelves.