Proofreading Fool on the Hill, 28 years later

by Matt Ruff on January 21, 2016

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cover illustration by Dietrich Ebert

This spring, Grove Press will be publishing a new edition of Fool on the Hill, with a new design, layout, and cover art.

The redesign meant that the book had to go through copy editing and proofreading again, which meant that I had to reread it. In the past, revisiting Fool has always been a bit weird for me. Since it is a first novel, and one I wrote more than half a lifetime ago, I’ve generally compared it to looking at my old high school yearbook: there’s a pleasant sense of nostalgia undercut by a tendency to wince at my younger self’s lifestyle choices (that hair? really?).

This time was different, though. Maybe it’s turning 50, but I found I was able to appreciate the book entirely on its own terms for the first time in decades. I really liked it.

There were a lot of little bits of business that I’d completely forgotten. For example, I was amused to realize that one of the talking dogs in the novel—Bucklette, the evil Republican Collie—was almost certainly inspired by Ann Coulter, who was a student at Cornell at the same time I was. (We only met once that I can recall, but she was already infamous as a co-founder of the liberal-baiting Cornell Review. Some things haven’t changed.)

About the copy editing: I mentioned this in a previous post, but just to reassure longtime fans, there have been no alterations to the original text, beyond the correction of some very old spelling and punctuation errors. I even rejected a number of suggested grammar fixes, on the grounds that 22-year-0ld me knew when he wanted to use an unorthodox verb tense. But Gnossos Pappadopoulis’s name is finally spelled correctly.

The new edition should be available sometime in May, and an updated version of the ebook, free of the OCR errors that plagued the original, should come online at around the same time. I’ll post again when I have a more exact date.

Achim January 21, 2016 at 11:57 am

One of my fav books, so thank you for the great times I had (and my son has!) while reading it.

Kimberly January 21, 2016 at 2:01 pm

So cool!! I posted on FB that I still have my original paperback. Its the only book that I demanded my friends give back to me after I made them all read it. 🙂

Pat January 21, 2016 at 7:18 pm

That’s true; she did make me give it back. 🙂

Rob G January 21, 2016 at 6:13 pm

I came across this book at a PX in Germany in 1989, and after reading the back cover, thought I’d give it a try. Since then I’ve purchased, re-read, and given away several copies as recommendations to other book lovers. I look forward to getting a new copy in May.

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