Today I got Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist in the mail. For those who don’t know, it’s a compendium of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writings from the Missouri Ruralist from 1911 to 1924. It was published late last year.
At first I hadn’t intended to buy the book, since I already owned Little House in the Ozarks, given to me as a college graduation gift. I did value it; after I lost it through various moves, I replaced it with an eBayed copy. But I’m not a collecting purist so even when Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist came out, I figured I’d still make do with Ozarks.
But something was wrong. Every time I went to consult Little House in the Ozarks for this column or that (even for this blog), or to track down when Laura wrote about a certain subject, one particular piece of punctuation would gnaw at me. I’d shut the book and remember it dancing through my head. Even when I tried to recall the content of the column I’d read, I’d recall just as clearly that piece of punctuation.
The darn ellipsis.
Although it’s often used incorrectly (even by moi), officially — in books from publishing houses that pay for copy editing, or some of the better periodicals — an ellipsis indicates replacing something that’s missing. Not only was the total number of columns curtailed, the columns that were printed were often incomplete. What each ellipsis was telling me — taunting me with — over and over again, was “this isn’t all of it.” I was missing out. The ellipses were mocking my incomplete reading experience.
Apparently the same thing occurred to or was pointed out to Stephen Hines, because now we have a complete set in Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist.
Or so he says.
And now I own it. I’m going to start reading a column a night, I think, if I can manage it.
I’ll be looking for the ellipses.