The Great Typo Hunt

My cousin Jennifer gave me this book for my birthday because she said it was something she could see me doing (actually, full disclosure, she said it was something she could see me and Tina doing, and it definitely is the sort of thing you’d want a buddy along for).  Jeff Deck enticed a few of his friends (including Benjamin Herson, who got into the idea enough to score a co-writing credit on the book) to join him on a trip across the United States, finding and correcting typos and other errata on signs.

Needless to say, they had no trouble finding mistakes. Correcting them wasn’t always as easy. They did some stealth corrections (one of which eventually landed them in trouble with the law, when they unwittingly “defaced” a sign that the U.S. National Parks deemed to have historic value, errors and all), but more often they informed employees about errors in a store’s sign.  Their polite requests to be allowed to correct the sign were met with everything from happy acquiescence to bald-faced denial that the error was even an error.  And then there was the memorable occasion when they were told that correcting the sign would make it look tacky, and incorrect is better than tacky.

Deck, who is the narrator of the story, intersperses his adventures with reflections on the fluidity of the English language and the nature of typographical and grammatical mistakes. It’s an amusing little romp through territory all us grammar Nazis have contemplated at times. Seriously, who hasn’t wanted to white-out a mispaced apostrophe? Though I am personally saving my rage for all those places that unnecessarily use the letter K as a replacement for C, just to look … kute? Yes, Kountry Kravin’s and Krafts, I’m looking at you.  Someday I will sweep across North America with vengeance, korrecting all of you!! And I will stay, of course, as I always do when travelling, at the Kampgrounds of America … but I will turn them all to Campgrounds!!! and since I don’t want to pack a tent I will sleep in Camping Cabins, not Kamping Kabins!!!! And I …

Sorry, got carried away there for a minute planning my own crusade (krusade? At leats I’m glad Kampus Krusade for Krist never succumbed to that particular advertising horror).  That’s really the best thing about The Great Typo Hunt — you can have some fun with it, imagining what you’d do on a similar trip.  Jeff Deck is a great editor and proofreader, but I didn’t find him to be a sparkling writer: there were times I just bogged down in his narrative.  Apparently it takes more than an absence of typos to make a highly readable book. In spite of that, I salute his efforts to clean up the poor, abused English language, and I’m almost ready to get out there with my own bottle of White-Out and do my part. Almost.

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8 Comments

Filed under Nonfiction -- memoir

8 responses to “The Great Typo Hunt

  1. See, whenever a ‘c’ is replaced by a ‘k’ at the beginning of a word, it just reminds me of the Ku Klux Klan, and that is wildly unfortunate for the product in question.

  2. Erin

    I enjoyed this book. Like you, I did get bogged down at times, and I didn’t find it to be amazing to read, but I had fun with it all the same!

    A friend of mine went to a signing with Deck in her hometown. He was handing out kits like the one he carried around!

  3. I could certainly make use of one of those kits if I had it!!

    LiteraryOmnivore, you’ve just given me one more reason to hate superfluous K’s.

  4. But see, you left a huge hole in your review. You didn’t answer the BIG question:

    Did you find any typos in the book?

  5. Nope! The authors have actually addressed this on their website … so far only one person has found an error, not a typo but the name of a book given incorrectly, and they sent that person a prize.

  6. I smell a book based on a road trip. Maybe Krushing the K Konspiracy. I am in!

  7. I’m very anxious to read this!! Here is my book blog, recently launched:
    http://mariesbookgarden.blogspot.com/

  8. Jen

    I can’t wait to read this book! Thanks!

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