Because they normally put in only three-day work-weeks—to be sure, those days usually consist of 12 or more hours—members of SI's copy department have large blocks of free time. So when they are not going over our stories for sense, grammar, spelling and style, many of them pursue other callings. This explains the three novelists, dancer, free-lance writer and playwright to be found among the ranks of our 11 copy editors.
Deputy copy chief Dick McAdams. 39, puts his off hours to good use, too. During his days away from SI—Tuesday through Friday—McAdams is a full-time homemaker. The site of his domestic moonlighting is the four-bedroom house in Jersey City, N.J., that he shares with Sara Solberg, who is a computer typesetter at FORTUNE and a free-lance photographer and writer, and their two children, Emma Margaret, 5, and Elizabeth Sara, 4. He rises at 7 a.m. to bathe his daughters and get Maggie off to kindergarten. He shops and cleans the house, cooks dinner and in the evening sometimes entertains the girls with installments of a fairy tale he's writing for them. "This is a good father," says Solberg. "Ask Bessie and Maggie." We did, and both enthusiastically agree.
Solberg and McAdams met in 1977, when they were graduate students in English at Columbia University. Solberg was at work on a doctoral dissertation that compared James Joyce's Ulysses with V. by Thomas Pynchon. McAdams's thesis topic was more obscure. "One of the major intellectual questions of the Jacksonian period, 1820-60, was, What is an American?" McAdams says. "Interestingly, few people have looked at the popular literature written about the American Revolution—Fourth of July speeches and historical romances, for example—to see how the Jacksonians answered that question. I did." In the process, McAdams read more than 50 novels and 40 speeches.
After receiving his Ph.D. in 1979, the year after Solberg got hers, McAdams taught literature and journalism at Manhattan College, then made the move to the more stable world of copyediting. In 1983 he came to SI and has since established a reputation as a whiz with copy. Even though now, as deputy chief, he spends most of his time orchestrating the closing of stories and overseeing the work of the copy department, he still can't escape what he calls "the curse of the copyreader." Says McAdams, "I can't just read things. I'm constantly looking for errors. Whenever I see the word accommodate, I count the c's and m's. I can't help myself."