I have a new story out in The Boston Globe– it’s a review of “The Great Typo Hunt,” by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson.
Here’s the beginning of the piece:
If a sign in front of a store mistakenly uses “it’s’’ instead of “its,’’ is the error a big deal? Is it a symptom of grammatical ignorance, or is it just an insignificant typo? Some may be bothered by the mistake, while others might not notice or care.
The protagonists of “The Great Typo Hunt’’ notice, and definitely care. In March 2008, Jeff Deck, an editor with a keen eye for typos and other errors, set off from Somerville with a mission: to correct typos across the country, wherever he might see them. The book, which is funny and original, is written by Deck and Benjamin D. Herson, Deck’s companion for much of the journey. (The story is narrated exclusively from Deck’s perspective.)
The book follows a classic American narrative: a journey across the country and then home again. But instead of travelers looking for a better life, these two men are looking for typos. One of the first mistakes Deck spots is in a Filene’s Basement in Boston, where he chafes at a sign reading “Mens’ Boxed Ties.’’ (That mistake remains uncorrected.) In a diner in Maryland, they change the word “puding’’ on a chalkboard to “pudding.’’ In New Orleans, they change the word “cemetary’’ to “cemetery.’’ Some of the mistakes they spot go unfixed, others are corrected with permission, and some are “stealth corrections,’’ done on the sly. Photos of some of the typos and corrections are included in the book.
The idea came about after Deck attended his five-year college reunion, where he was forced to ask himself what impact his life was having on the bigger world. Later, after seeing a sign misspelled as “no tresspassing,’’ he eventually decides to “change the world, one typo correction at a time.’’