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  • I'm a writer, journalist, and the editor of The Gambit, the alt-weekly newspaper in New Orleans.

    Journalism: My work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Globe & Mail (Canada), The Times- Picayune (New Orleans), The Oregonian, and Willamette Week, as well as in magazines including Details, Vogue, Publishers Weekly, and Portland Monthly.

    Publishing: Tight Shot, my first novel, was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Its sequel, Hot Shot, was roundly ignored by everyone, but was a far better book. I'm also a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

    Stage: I was a member of the Groundlings and Circle Repertory West in Los Angeles, and am a playwright (see "Stage" in the right-hand rail).


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« Dept. of Unfortunate Headlines Dept. | Main | The Portland Tribune and KPTV: why no conflict-of-interest disclosure? »

May 05, 2008




Alan C

Ha ha! Off to a great start, Mr. Pamplin.


Copy editors are certainly undervalued. We don't even have any at my job (I write news for a TV station's web site). So every time I write a story and hit the publish button I say a little prayer inside my head that I didn't typo, use improper grammar or get the facts wrong. When no one's looking at what you're doing, though, it does happen. Doesn't mean I'm stupid or can't write... just means that I'm human and make mistakes.


Exactly, Shannon - and I know the feeling. Even on blogposts, I hit "send" and immediately see something that could've been more artfully phrased. We can all use an editor in our corner.

That's what makes me so sad about the Trib-ulations; the author of the story with the misspelling in the dec had done a good job with his piece (as you know, reporters don't often write their own heds and decs - although who knows how that's changing). And the editor who wrote the hed and the dec certainly knows how to spell. But that level of polish, when it's missing, casts a pall over the whole enterprise among readers who don't understand the granularity of the editorial process. It ends up reflecting badly on the writer, the hed writer, and the paper as a whole.

The latter may deserve it (in this case), but the other two certainly don't.

And, in my deepest heart, I have to admit that I wonder the same thing. Judith Miller's stories at the NY Times were undoubtedly models of spelling and grammar, yet they were wrong tip to tail. Yet I always wonder: if the paper can't get the itsy details right, who's to say that they're getting the big picture right?


What's a "hed writer"?


Wow and me working for a paper, I should have known. I have been informed that there is such a thing as a "hed writer".
My apologies.

Samuel John Klein

This is why you try not to make those "one small mistakes" that will happen when you make big mistakes, like cashiering all your copy editors.

Of course it's possible that after being stranded 30 miles from home she'd walk down the road yelling "chicken!" "Turkey!" "Cornish game hen!" "pheasant!".

If it were me, I'd use different words, of course.


A good copy editor is worth their weight in gold. Bad move, Trib.

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  • Booklist:
    "A worthy successor to Tight Shot, Allman's insider view of the seamier side of Hollywood is not only hip and entertaining but also has something serious to say about our insatiable hunger for tabloid thrills."

    Washington Post:
    "Barbed, breezy and often pretty and entertaining. Allman can be very funny, and Hot Shot complements nicely the less forgiving takes on Los Angeles as the future of us all. "



    "Allman turns a very sardonic pen loose on Hollywood's glitz-and-glamour crowd in this entertaining first novel... An impressive debut and an almost sure thing for a sequel."

    New Orleans Times-Picayune:
    "Allman clearly knows those of whom he writes. He's got L.A. nailed."

    Publishers Weekly:
    "Snappy debut... Readers will look for a sequel."


    A French Quarter convenience-store clerk has a hilariously traumatic encounter with a pair of Shreveport tourists. Part of Native Tongues 3 (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2001; Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago; 2006).
    An upper-class black caterer finds comeuppance and redemption. Part of Native Tongues 4 (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2005).
  • MY-O-MY
    A recreation of an evening at the notorious New Orleans 1950s female-impersonator nightclub My-O-My (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2005).
    A lonely man discovers purpose when he intercepts a televangelist's letters from his neighbor's mailbox. Part of the Dramarama New Plays Festival (Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; 2004).
    A black father discovers that no good deed goes unpunished when he helps his white neighbor bail her son out of Orleans Parish Prison. (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2004; Walker Percy Southern Playwrights Festival, Covington; 2007).
    An evening of comedies. In The Stud Mule, the world's richest woman arranges to be impregnated by a doltish escort; in Snatching Victory, an earnest college student runs afoul of her lecherous professor and the dour head of a women's-studies department (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2003).


  • Patty Friedmann: <i>A Little Bit Ruined</i>

    Patty Friedmann: A Little Bit Ruined
    One of the first post-Katrina novels, and probably destined to be one of the best. Friedmann's sequel to Eleanor Rushing finds her crazy heroine still holding everything together after the storm (after a fashion), until she has to leave New Orleans and she falls apart physically as well as mentally. Mordantly, morbidly funny.

  • Tom Piazza: <i>Why New Orleans Matters</i>

    Tom Piazza: Why New Orleans Matters
    The best post-Katrina book I've read. In 150 small pages, Piazza explicates the New Orleans experience simply and beautifully. I'll be passing this one on to anyone who wonders "But why would anyone want to live there?".


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