Deck is a man on a mission. From greasy spoon menus to national park signs, he and his cohorts (including co-author Herson) road trip around the nation looking for, and attempting to correct, spelling mistakes, misplaced apostrophes, and other small but apparently significant abuses to the English language. While Deck and friends approach their trip with a good sense of humor, early chapters feel prosaic. Before departing Deck contemplates the "madness" of the endeavor. Is correct commas from a car really all that wild? And surely we could have done without the litany of bear-related pet names Deck's girlfriend often employs when addressing him. Given that most readers drawn to this book will already share the authors' penchant for consistent and "proper" language, more substantial exploration of their evolving motivation would have been stimulating. Deck and Herson speed past questions of race, class, dialect, and education that their quest inherently raises. While the moments of human interaction run from tender to hostile, the end result doesn't add up to more than the sum of its anecdotes. Though the many snapshots included (often in the "before and after" vein, showing the fruits of their labor) add welcome humor.
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Indie Next List, "Great Reads from Booksellers You Trust," August 2010
Boston Globe Bestseller
"[THE GREAT TYPO HUNT], where editor meets road trip, is entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking, and one that any lover of language, travel — or both — will probably enjoy."
—The Boston Globe
"[A]n illuminating hybrid of travelogue, English usage textbook and sociological experiment."
"[C]omplete with breezy writing, mock superhero prologues, and a serious mission to return phonics and proofreading to places of honor."
—Christian Science Monitor
"Part classic road-trip narrative, buddy-love saga and state-of-the-nation survey, it's also an adventure thriller for grammar fiends, travel porn for copy editors and other enforcers of linguistic propriety."
"Deck and Herson show the reader that adventures in language needn’t be limited to the computer screen or printed page. In their view, the real excitement’s out there on the open road, and they want you to share it." —Richmond Times-Dispatch
"[B]reezy and fun....most interesting when it delves into issues of class and race...and in its discussion of the plasticity of the English language."
“This pair of kooks, with their high standards and principled civil disobedience, give me hope for the future of humanity.”
—Steven Pinker, Harvard College professor, Harvard University, and author of The Language Instinct
and The Stuff of Thought
“A compelling read! Deck and Herson have brilliantly combined the exploratory curiosity of the travel writer, the human interest of the story-teller, and the explanatory detail of the language specialist into an original, humorous, and engaging narrative. Anyone interested in language standards, attitudes, and education should read this enticing book.”
—David Crystal, author of Just a Phrase I'm Going Through
and By Hook or By Crook: a Journey in Search of English
“Only Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson could make the complete decline of the English language so entertaining. It's heartening to accompany these two young men on their quixotic quest to identify and rehabilitate the typos, spellos, and prepostrophes that threaten to bring down civilization as we know it.”
—Richard Lederer, author of Anguished English
“With sly humor and pitch-perfect tone, Jeff and Benjamin take us on a hilarious ride in a '97 Sentra around the U.S.A. in search of malapropisms and misprints on everything from menus to marquees, bumpers to billboards. It's a spell-checker's On the Road, a Strunk & White Odyssey, a charming Travels with My Dictionary with two young men who start as linguists and end as friends.”
—Michael Malone, author of Handling Sin
and The Four Corners of the Sky
“In this seriously funny--and seriously thoughtful--book, a simple typo hunt becomes something more: an investigation into the deeper mysteries of orthographical fallibility. To err is human; to correct, divine!”
—Patricia T. O'Conner, author of Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English
“A funny and obsessive adventure that any language lover will appreciate.”
—David Wolman, author of Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling