Ron MacLean and Editing

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Between work, school, and my IPP, I've been reading Ron MacLean's recently published auto-biography, Boarded: Hijinks, Highlights, Late Nights and Insights.

For hockey fans and media lovers alike, it's so far a decent read. (I haven't gotten though the whole thing just yet. There's still time for it to unwind into a literary mess.)

The one thing I've always noticed about MacLean is his choice of vocabulary. As the intelligent antidote to Don Cherry's crassness and bigotry, MacLean has the ability to capture the attention and respect of his audience with his seemingly perfect word structure and confident tone.

This is why I find it surprising that his book reads at a level fit for someone with the reading comprehension of a student in  junior high.

Without providing examples (maybe I will later, or you could just pick up the book and check it out for yourself), it's evident that MacLean didn't write the book with the most astute members of his fan base in mind. 

Simple verb choices and bland description are found throughout the book. It don't feel like I'm getting the full breadth of the true Ron MacLean experience. I feel like MacLean's true voice has been edited out of his own auto-biography. It feels like maybe Grapes had a hand in ghost writing it. (He did write the forward.)

But maybe there's a reason for that.

Maybe catering to a wide audience is the whole point to the relaxed tone of the book. I'm not sure if reading is a top-5 hobby for the average hockey fan, but if it is, I'm sure they'd appreciate something that was simple and easy to get into.

However, in an effort to cater to a larger audience, MacLean's work seems watered down and flat out bland. Watching him on TV for the better part of my life, I can tell you that he's anything but.

Is this the formula for an auto-biography in 2011? Is it more important to cater to a large audience than to honor and fulfill the expectations of your most specific followers?

I suspect everyone is different. MacLean is in a position where he's the co-face of arguably the most recognizable media institution in Canada. He represents different things to different people. I just feel he's sold out to sell more books.

It seems like the all-mighty dollar has won again. I'll still be a Ron MacLean fan after I'm finished his book. I'll just be more skeptical of auto-biographies in the future. 


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