You’d want the earth to open up and swallow you if you’d worked in any editorial capacity at Knopf on The Catskills: Its History and How It Changed America. Woodstock is possibly the most famous town in the area, but the authors seem to have mixed it up with Woodstock, Illinois, and have published all sorts of details about the Illinois burg as if it were in New York’s green and pleasant land. The Digital Reader, having examined the files of The Woodstock Independent (a much-used source in the book, but unfortunately from the wrong state) exposes the devastating facts.
Woodstock, Illinois’ claim to fame is that it was the location used for the exterior shots in the movie Groundhog Day. That notwithstanding, it is of course rather unlikely that any poor editor working away lickety-split on their latest Knopf freelance job could be expected to realize that the descriptions were not of businesses or even streets in the right Woodstock. We all know that there’s no way anyone at a book publisher’s is going to go in for fact-checking, and call the local chamber of commerce. We just don’t have the budget for such things. No, we rely on the authors to get it right. To them the embarrassment appropriately belongs. Maybe the fact that one of them is a filmmaker might have sensitized him to the Groundhog Day connection.