I’m used to seeing words used oddly or wrongly; almost always, I can figure out what the writer meant to say, but in this brief New Yorker review of The Lucky Ones, by Rachel Cusk, I am at a loss:
The women in these five linked vignettes are all connected to a journalist named Serena Porter, either personally or as readers of the weekly column she writes about her family life. While they struggle to understand their painful and awkward responses to lovers and children, she spins the raw material of motherhood and marriage into witty and topical dispatches. Of course, much of what Serena writes is factitious, both in its details (she freely appropriates an acquaintance’s experience as her own) and in the breezy complacency that it projects; Cusk seems to suggest that our true thoughts about love and family defy articulation. Such is her gift for capturing women’s psychology and their sense of their place in the world that the novel achieves what Serena’s column cannot: a fresh and compassionate portrait of a generation’s feelings about motherhood.
(Emphasis added.) I don’t think factitious can mean ‘artificial’ in the context of that sentence, but I have no idea what it might be intended to mean. Suggestions?
Addendum. I was going to do a companion entry about a bizarre usage by (of all people) Susan Sontag in her essay “Regarding the Torture of Others” in Sunday’s NY Times Magazine: “An erotic life is, for more and more people, that whither can be captured in digital photographs and on video”—but the offending “whither” has already been changed to “which” in the online version, so it was a simple typo, hardly worth the blogging except to lament for the thousandth time the execrable standards of proofreading now prevailing at the Newspaper of Record.