Friday, August 17, 2007

Plural possessives

In my rush to get my thoughts down about all the books (a pitiful six when I look back on it) I finished while I was away in June and July, I seem to have completely overlooked the need to describe the plot of the books I've been listening to -- which makes for pretty boring reading (not that I keep this blog for others to read ;-) ... yeah, right!). So, from now on ... more interesting postings!

I'm about halfway through Avi's The Traitors' Gate (and don't you misplace that apostrophe or you won't find this by title searching at the Recorded Books website!) and some of the portentous goings-on and mysterious characters have now been partially explained. Young John Huffam is pulled out of school one day to learn that his father is about to be sent to debtors' prison because he is unable to pay the 300 pounds that he owes to a mysterious Irishman. John appears to be the only sensible person in his family, and soon he learns that his father is working with Scotland Yard to entrap person or persons who are attempting to obtain some British military weapons' secrets (yes, one can use that plural possessive apostrophe three times in one paragraph!). Unfortunately, not even helping Scotland Yard will eliminate Mr. Huffam's debt, so John must not only dodge nefarious spies and police impersonators, he's got to find 300 pounds as well! The plot thickens ...

Avi has apparently been a long-time fan of Charles Dickens, and this novel is his homage to the great novelist. One of his characters is named Copperfield (actually that might be an assumed name), and there are many other Dickensian names sprinkled throughout the story. John Keating is narrating this title with appropriate Victorian melodramatic feeling, and he is peopling the story with some memorable vocal interpretations. Keating is the narrator of a favorite audio series of mine -- The Ranger's Apprentice (just one Ranger, drat) -- and, to me, his interpretation of John Huffam's adventures is suffering in comparison. In the first two Ranger's novels (the third one arrived with the same batch that held Traitors' Gate), Keating related the adventures of Halt and young Will with an easy naturalism that made them a compelling listen. Here, in Victorian London, he just sounds fake and over the top. And, maybe that's appropriate for a Dickensian tale, but it sounds a little off to me.

I'm reading Avi because I was out of "assigned" titles -- but I've got a doozy waiting for me: Dave Eggers' What is the What -- 21 hours!

So, is the correct possessive Eggers' or Eggers's?

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