The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson: B

From the front flap:
The world needed a hero, but how would an editor with no off-switch answer the call? For Jeff Deck, the writing was literally on the wall: NO TRESSPASSING. In that moment, his greater purpose became clear. Dark hordes of typos had descended upon civilization… and only he could wield the marker to defeat them.

After a college reunion spurs the realization that he hasn’t done anything to change the world, unlike some of his impressive former classmates, Jeff Deck decides to play to his strengths—editorial skills—and embark on a cross-country trip to correct typos. A few friends join the initiative and TEAL (Typo Eradication Advancement League) is born. With his trusty vehicular steed, Callie, and stalwart companion, Benjamin (and armed with a kit full of markers and correction fluid), Deck sets out on his quest.

The Great Typo Hunt chronicles his journey, both physically and figuratively. In simplest terms, he and Benjamin travel from town to town, spotting typos and attempting to fix them, aiming for a correction rate of 50 percent or higher. Sometimes they correct typos on the sly and sometimes request permission to do so. It’s pretty satisfying when a fix has been achieved, especially when pictoral evidence is furnished. Alas, many of the people they talk to are apathetic—one actually says “I would rather have a sign spelled incorrectly than a tacky-looking sign”—while a few are downright hostile. Happily, some also prove receptive and appreciative of TEAL’s efforts.

Meanwhile, Deck has much cause during the trip to consider the real purpose of his mission. In an early interview he states, “It’s not about making anyone feel bad or… look stupid or something, it’s just really about going after the errors themselves.” And that’s pretty much where he ends up at the end, though it takes time for his thoughts to coalesce into a mission statement that has more to do with clarity in communication than in adherence to specific rules. After a setback involving federal charges for vandalizing a historic sign in a national park, TEAL seems poised to embark on future endeavors that revolve more around education than correction.

It’s a worthy goal and one with which I can sympathize, as a some-time editor myself. Still, I will admit that reading encounter after encounter in which willful ignorance rules the day becomes extremely depressing after a while. I, too, lay the blame at an education system that has failed to provide people with the tools they need to make sense of writing in English. This shaky foundation has made people feel insecure about writing, which in turn makes them feel stupid—or like they’re being called stupid—when an error is pointed out to them, when that was never anyone’s intent. Thankfully, Deck and crew do not feel as hopeless about the situation as I do!

To conclude, I shall share a personal story of typo correction:

Back around 2002 or so, my husband and I went out for subs at a place with a sign shop for a neighbor. On their street-side sign, the sign place was advertising a “Crazzy Eddie” sale. Hubby penned a note and slipped it in the door. A few days later, I was driving by and happened to spot this. A return trip with a camera was clearly called for.

I suppose this could have been done in the spirit of fun, but to me it seems to say, “Screw you, buddy.”

Additional reviews of The Great Typo Hunt can be found here.

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