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Book review: See Also Murder, by Larry D. Sweazy

By Robin MarwickSee Also Murder

When I offered to review a book about an indexer, I vaguely expected a cozy mystery, perhaps with an index entry at the head of each chapter. See Also Murder is not cozy. Set in the stark landscape of North Dakota in 1964, it’s narrated by Marjorie Trumaine, a farm wife and freelance indexer. Marjorie’s husband, Hank, was blinded and paralyzed in a hunting accident, and Marjorie is holding things together—barely—with help from neighbours and her indexing work for a New York publisher. When her closest neighbours and friends are found with their throats slit, the local sheriff asks Marjorie to help identify a mysterious amulet found with the bodies.

And then, naturally, more bodies start to pile up, and Marjorie fears that her husband’s life and her own are in danger. Plus, she has this deadline for a book about headhunters that she can’t blow if she wants to keep working. It’s easy to see how the scenario could have been played for laughs, but like its North Dakota setting and Scandinavian-descended characters, See Also Murder is serious.

Marjorie is an organized, meticulous list maker with a healthy dose of curiosity, which makes her a good indexer and a decent, if reluctant, detective. Indeed, she compiles an index and enlists the help of the town librarian to help her solve the murders. See Also Murder has some indexing lore sprinkled here and there, which isn’t surprising as Sweazy is an indexer himself. There’s enough to be interesting, but not so much that it feels crammed in regardless. As a narrator, Marjorie is didactic and detailed. At certain points you get the sense that she’s desperately lonely, narrating her own life to remind herself that she exists. (more…)

Video: Watch the panel discussion on Editing Canadian English at our April meeting

At the April 2015 meeting of EAC’s Toronto branch, Nancy Foran, Elizabeth d’Anjou, Emily Dockrill Jones, and Gillian Watts spoke about their contributions to the third edition of Editing Canadian English.

From Canadianization, spelling, and abbreviations to punctuation, measurements, bilingual text, and so much more, ECE remains the essential reference for Canadian editors and writers. Available online now with a print edition launching in June, you can visit today and sign up for a free 30-day trial.

March speaker Q&A: Indexer and editor Marnie Lamb

Marnie LambNow that this month’s EAC Toronto branch meeting is almost upon us, we wanted to get you acquainted with Marnie Lamb, who will be giving a presentation all about indexing on March 25. What are the mechanics of creating an index? What type of reader uses an index? Marnie will discuss these questions in the context of her experience indexing Michael Bryant’s 28 Seconds, the memoir of a well-known and controversial Canadian politician.

Meeting details
March 25, 2014
Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Room 318 (southwest corner of Spadina Avenue and Bloor Street West)
7 PM: Open discussion session for new and prospective EAC members
7:30 PM: Information session and program (Marnie Lamb’s presentation)
9 PM: Mix-and-mingle over coffee, tea, and cake
Meetings are FREE for EAC members and students, and $10 for all other attendees.

Q&A conducted by Laura Godfrey

You mention on your website that you’ve been told you have “the soul of an indexer.” What is it that you enjoy about indexing?

I love to read and to organize information. Like editing, indexing presents me with a great opportunity to be introduced to all kinds of people, places, and ideas I would not otherwise encounter. Through reading manuscripts on indexing jobs, I’ve learned about how deafness was portrayed in Victorian literature, how to make high schools safe for sexual-minority students, and how Canada’s wartime prime ministers each governed. I’ve grown both intellectually and emotionally by better understanding others’ perspectives. I am also constantly creating lists: lists of my clothing, of the movies I’ve watched, of the books I’ve read. The lists are not simple, either. My clothing list, for example, is broken down by season and type of garment and arranged in rainbow order (green tops are listed before blue). Indexing is the perfect marriage of my bibliophilia and my anal-retentiveness!