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The left at last

Woo hoo!  I mailed my galleys back to NYU Press yesterday—and sure enough, caught a typo late last night.  So I tossed and turned all night, dreaming of an eerie copyeditor who appears at my door saying, room for one more....  Did I mention that this will be my first book that includes a Tom Tomorrow cartoon?  And that the cartoon was placed on the wrong page of the galleys?  Fixing that little mistake will probably cost me as much as the reprint free I offered to Mr. Tomorrow.  But at least I have my very own page at the NYUP website, with all the critical book-related information:

Cloth: $29.95
ISBN: 978081479984
Release Date: 11/01/2009
352 pages, 1 illustrations

The 1 illustrations are just great.  Thanks again, Mr. Tomorrow!  And I think 978081479984 is just about my favorite ISBN number ever.  I note with chagrin, however, that I am listed as “Michael F. Berube,” even though I last used my middle initial in 1974, sometime around the night Chicago died and Billy was advised not to be a hero.  On the plus side, the cover is going to be Teh R0XX0r, with no ginormous ghostly looming heads or preternaturally large pieces of chalk.

So now I can finally answer Flavia’s questionIf your book manuscript (or dissertation, or latest research project) were a piece of furniture, what would it be? Mine is a big, creaky old armoire I’ve been stuffing things into for the past five or six years.  Last winter, when I finally finished stuffing things into it, I decided to paint some fire on the side and then hit it with a sledgehammer repeatedly—to make it look mean

Also, I edited the index, which was done by a professional indexer who knew what he was doing.  The subject listings and cross-referencings were intense.  I did catch one curious mistake, though:  my discussions of “class-first” leftists in chapter 5 were indexed as discussions of “first-class” leftists.  As you might imagine, I was sorely tempted to go back into the manuscript and change “class-first” to “first-class,” since that would certainly put a fresh spin on the cultural left vs. reformist left debates of 1990s. That Gitlin fellow—he was one first-class leftist, he was.  When I hit the road with Mike Tomasky, lemme tell ya, we always went first class.

Well, since Flavia has the manuscript-as-furniture question covered, my Arbitrary question for this Friday is this: what’s your very favorite typo in a published book or essay?

Posted by on 07/17 at 10:13 AM
  1. I once wrote, in a publicly-filed brief, the following (paraphrased and condensed):

    “There are three reasons the Court should agree with us:

    (1) [summary of first reason]

    (2) [summary of second reason]”

    That was a first-class typo, if you ask me.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  11:21 AM
  2. Finnegans Wake, p. 38, “pecklapitschens”, as if it could ever be plural.

    Posted by Gary Oxford  on  07/17  at  11:46 AM
  3. Edward, that looks like this year’s GOP alternative budget.  Bravo!  I’m sure you won on summary judgment.

    And I totally missed “pecklapitschens.” Great catch!

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  11:49 AM
  4. Favorite? I’ve got a least favorite, but this is not the place for ragging on overzealous and underknowledgable copyeditors.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  01:15 PM
  5. 1 tbsp salt.  should have been tsp.  Bleh!

    My absolute favorite, though?  Fig. 1 is missing from my dissertation.  Does that count as a typo?

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  01:20 PM
  6. Posted by Orange  on  07/17  at  01:25 PM
  7. Oh, typos! I loves ‘em. In the first edition of my first book, I and every other proof reader failed to notice that half of the instances of the word “from” had been transposed to “form”.

    Going over the galley for my latest book, I was horrified to see that all the Venn diagrams had come out way too dark. It looked like I had randomly decorated the book with big black circles. Also, I had somehow lost half a footnote. Just poof! gone.

    Posted by Keith  on  07/17  at  02:26 PM
  8. Richard Posner’s new book, A Failure of Capitalism, has precisely one equation in the entire book, a very simple illustrative one, and it’s wrong.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  02:36 PM
  9. well Bloix, maybe that was the failure of capitalism

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  03:17 PM
  10. Oh, we are ragging on editors? I published a paper once that settled once and for all whether turtles could drink through their butts (you don’t believe me? It got me a few of my 15 minutes). After I had seen the proofs, somebody changed the medical term per anum ("up the ass") to per annum, which made me look like a doofus.

    captcha: writing, what I should be doing instead of this.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  04:15 PM
  11. The substitution cipher in the first printings (at least) of Cryptonomicon is incorrect. And my Catholic high school senior yearbook was “Edgewood High School of the Scared Heart”.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  04:26 PM
  12. this is not the place for ragging on overzealous and underknowledgable copyeditors

    You are exactly wrong, Sven!  This has always been the place for ragging on overzealous and underknowledgable copyeditors. I mean, we need to know how much turtles can drink through their butts each year, do we not?

    Least favorite recent typo:  the NHL’s official program for the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals includes a photo of Henri Richard, who is identified as Maurice Richard.  I mean, really.  Who put that program together, Gary Bettman?

    Posted by Michael  on  07/17  at  04:37 PM
  13. JDC, it sounds like your Scared Heart could use a friendish hug.

    Sven, thank you so much for the correction laugh and the Straight Dope link. As for that river where “adults of both sexes swam with a widely gaping cloacal orifice (up to 30mm in diameter). The orifice remains open when individuals are out of the water."—this place must be popular for spring break.

    Posted by Orange  on  07/17  at  05:42 PM
  14. Bad-ass armoire. Now that’s what I need in my living room.

    As for the typos, which indexes/indexers seem particularly prone to: when I worked for the university press in grad school, I once caught an index entry that was supposed to be for the Joycean Bloom that read, instead: “Bloom, Harold.”

    Posted by Flavia  on  07/17  at  06:32 PM
  15. I don’t remember the details (and the book is in a box in storage in New Mexico, while I’m in New York), but I remember reading a book by Robert M. Levine on the Canudos massacre in Brazil in the 1890s (use the Google).  On one page, it mentioned the name of a Catholic bishop who (it said) had died in 1893; yet on the very next page, it was discussing what he was doing in 1897. 

    Apparently, rumors of his demise had also been greatly exaggerated (and not-so-greatly copy-edited).

    Posted by Mr. Trend  on  07/17  at  07:31 PM
  16. Not very academic, and not really a typo but rather divinely-inspired transcription:

    A student at Ricks College in Idaho reported that a hit Broadway musical is coming to town, so hurry to get tickets for “Lame is Rob.”

    Posted by David J Swift  on  07/17  at  07:55 PM
  17. This one is thoroughly unacademic, but it cheered me up when I ran into it, as a semi-meaningful typo based on an error. In an Agatha Christie story there is a character of no very high cerebral development who is said to have no sense of wonder: not for her, we are told, the wild surmise of Cortex’s men, silent on a peak in Darien.

    (It will be recalled that it was Balboa, not Cortez the conqueror of Mexico, who spotted that ocean; Keats’s fault, but Ms. Christie’s printers topped it nicely.)

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  12:17 AM
  18. Always: defiantly! It is a word, but it usually results from MS Word bastardizing the student misspelling “definately,” which is a sort of double whammy. Why favorite? It has the unintended result of spicing up what is typically otherwise a very boring collection of words (a la “Cars are defiantly important vehicles in modern society...").

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  03:56 AM
  19. My roommate in college got arrested for DUI. The night before his court appearance, in a state of some distress, he looked up the penalty he could face and found it was “a manimum fine of $1500.” He spent the entire night fretting about whether it was supposed to be minimum or maximum.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  04:50 AM
  20. From California “Rules of the Road”, on passing bicyclists:

    Do not squeeze the bicyclist off the road if space permits

    One has to hope it’s a typo…

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  05:43 AM
  21. "This has always been the place for ragging on overzealous and underknowledgable copyeditors.”

    Only if copyeditors get to return the favor and rag on quasi-literate and ignorant authors.

    Here’s a sample of the sort of thing I was trying to render fluent and coherent today:

    “After several visits, starting in 1889, and enticed by his old buddy, sugar baron John Spreckels, a Greek immigrant who had been living in California, George Lycurgus, settled on O‘ahu in 1893, two weeks after Queen Lili‘uokalani was deposed.”

    John Spreckles was not, nor has he ever been, a Greek immigrant.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  06:15 AM
  22. The best scenario is to be a good copyeditor who can be an equal-opportunity mocker of both bad editing (making us look bad!) and bad writing (chapping our collective hide and making us work harder!). I have adopted a Facebook friend’s habit of posting the most egregious passages she’s editing so that everyone else can take a turn as Snarky Copyeditor.

    (But I’m sure Michael’s copyeditor would never set his prose out for mocking.)

    Posted by Orange  on  07/18  at  09:15 AM
  23. Zora: Diagram it!

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  09:24 AM
  24. Zora @ 20:  Only if copyeditors get to return the favor and rag on quasi-literate and ignorant authors.

    But of course!  It is a “two-way” “street.” Beginning with a dangling modifier, in today’s society today, quasi-literate and ignorant authors are defiantly fair game, especially, if they’re prose is as bad as that.  Really, Spreckles is the least of your problems—if that is his real name.

    Flavia @ 13:  Bad-ass armoire. Now that’s what I need in my living room.

    Me too!  We have no closet space anywhere near the entrances.  I tried hanging my fall/winter coats in my manuscript, but the moth problem is terrible.  And Harold Bloom for Leopold?  That’s just wrong is so many ways.

    Posted by Michael  on  07/18  at  10:19 AM
  25. On behalf of “overzealous and underknowledgable copyeditors,” I’d like to note that Sven misspelled underknowledgeable. And Michael, when talking about ISBNs, it’s redundant to refer to the ISBN number.

    *runs back into her cave to bask in her lack of erudition*

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  10:27 AM
  26. when talking about ISBNs, it’s redundant to refer to the ISBN number.

    Thanks, Annie!  I’ll remember that the next time I use an ATM machine.

    Posted by Michael  on  07/18  at  11:19 AM
  27. I’d like to note that Sven misspelled underknowledgeable.

    Yeah, but…

    I was testin’ ya.

    Nice job, by the way.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  11:24 AM
  28. IIRC, Mr Captcha at this very blog once demanded I mime ‘didnt’ before granting comment access.

    Captcha: problem.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  11:52 AM
  29. Thanks, Annie!  I’ll remember that the next time I use an ATM machine.


    Kidding aside, I do sympathize with authors who are frustrated by the level of editing their books receive. Unfortunately, academic publishers are seldom able to pay for the number of hours required to do a better-than-adequate job. Also, reading for content and reading for style, grammar, and syntax are two different things. When I worked as a copyeditor, it was actually more difficult to work on a book in my own field, due to the temptation to “lapse into reading.” Once a copyeditor does this, she’s sunk. She may impress the author by catching misattributions or other substantive errors, but she’ll miss compound subjects with a singular verb, dangling modifiers, errors of style, etc.

    I now work as a commissioning editor for an academic press, and it’s made me realize just how much I was asked to catch as a copyeditor. Presumably authors submitting a book proposal are putting their best foot forward, and yet I frequently receive proposals that

    1. Have not been proofread for obvious typographical errors (forget such subtleties as dangling modifiers)
    2. Are innocent of the difference between compliment and complement, principle and principal, and the like
    3. Are accompanied by cover letters addressed to an editor at a different press
    4. Do not include the book’s thesis (perhaps because it doesn’t have one)
    5. Neglect to place the author’s work in the context of other scholarship

    This list is by no means exhaustive, and yet all of these individuals have been awarded PhDs in literature. Many are in tenure-track positions.

    Being an editor can be enormously rewarding, and I work with fantastic authors. But as I’m sure is also the case with being a writer, it is occasionally dispiriting.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  12:33 PM
  30. Are innocent of the difference between compliment and complement, principle and principal, and the like

    As I posted here once before in reference to Matthew Yglesias’s adventures with the printed word, the charitable interpretation is that even if their submitted text is innocent of these difference,s the individuals are almost certainly not. But like MY, what they are guilty of is either a lack of self-awareness that they they are capable of such elementary errors in their own writing (and/or inability to notice them with their proofreading), or being lazy or self-absorbed enough to leave it up to the next person in line to catch the errors.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  02:18 PM
  31. Posted by  on  07/18  at  02:50 PM
  32. Is it OT to give an example from the Bible? Back in the 1600’s, a typo rendered the 7th Commandment as “Thou shalt commit adultery”:


    Perhaps some politicians have been reading this version lately? It would explain a lot.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  05:38 PM
  33. JP—cool Afghan history on a rug

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  05:41 PM
  34. Andy—doesn’t sound off topic to me, given the King’s lament about the low level to which compositors had sunk in the 1630’s:

    “I knew the tyme when great care was had about printing, the Bibles especially, good compositors and the best correctors were gotten being grave and learned men, the paper and the letter rare, and faire every way of the beste, but now the paper is nought, the composers boyes, and the correctors unlearned”

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  05:46 PM
  35. "I’d like to thank my parents, God and Ayn Rand.”

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  06:20 PM
  36. This is all well and good, but the big news is that a genuine certified 59-year old geezer is in the lead at the British Open at the end of 3 rounds.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  07:15 PM
  37. I have a first-class leftist story:  A few years ago, one of my students was in charge of bringing a famous leftist to campus. Not to name names, but his name rhymed with “Zoward Hinn.” Apparently, in addition to a five-figure speaking fee, the speaker demanded, and got, a first-class plane ticket.

    Apparently “the people” were worth writing about but not worth sitting with.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  07:16 PM
  38. From La Callecita Street to the El Camino, the hoi polloi were entering their PIN numbers into ATM machines for cash to get a GPS system before visiting the La Brea Tar Pits.

    [The above contains no contrived usage, but only things personally encountered by the author. La Callecita Street, by the way, is or was in San Diego, so there’s no excuse for it. And if you count only 7 redundancies, you probably need to check a Spanish dictionary.]

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  08:51 PM
  39. So sorry to be late to the author/editor bakeoff! I’ll proceed immediately, then, to the topic of the index, so that I may register my all-time favorite entry:

    “De Tocqueville, obligatory reference to, p. 116”

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  10:21 PM
  40. I meant to write “Postmodernists’ penchant for hyperbole has blinded many critics to a simple fact of postmodern theory, namely, that it is less a loosely connected set of assaults on objective truth and reality than a loosely connected set of cunning tactical maneuvers at a historical moment when an assault on objective truth and reality seemed like the right thing to do, well, at the moment.”

    But I accidentally typed, “Everybody just needs to chill the fuck out.”

    Posted by Lance  on  07/18  at  11:25 PM
  41. my favorite typo is of course from Sean Carroll’s forthcoming “From Eternity to Here”.

    The typo is, of course, left to the reader as an exercise

    captcha: “already” as in: Yes Sean it is already wrong.

    and to backtrack a bit

    poor sven dimilo
    turtle ass drinking water
    left shell shocked no doubt

    Posted by  on  07/19  at  12:53 AM
  42. Second-favorite typo: Sears stores’ in-store signage that omits the apostrophe, even as it celebrates that very punctuation point in the abstract, as it were, as a trademark: apostrophe.jpg

    Posted by  on  07/19  at  12:03 PM
  43. Not a typo, but a thinko so blatant that its oversight was the equivalent:

    Before he was well-known for writing about running, James Fixx wrote a book with the already embarrassing title of Games for the Superintelligent. In it he posed what he described as an unexplainable conundrum; how come you couldn’t lose weight drinking mixed drinks, since the number of calories required to heat the drink to body temperature was greater then the number of “calories” in the drink? Kilo joke left as an exercise for the reader.

    Posted by  on  07/19  at  01:14 PM
  44. The dear wife brought home a flyer for a position opening at the IRS for a “Pubic Relations” person.

    Posted by  on  07/19  at  02:24 PM
  45. The dear wife brought home a flyer for a position opening at the IRS for a “Pubic Relations” person.

    I thought this thread was for listing typos.

    Posted by  on  07/19  at  03:13 PM
  46. In 1985, Bluejay Books reissued L. Sprague deCamp’s classic novel “Rogue Queen.” While looking over a dealer’s table at ConQuesT in Kansas City that year, I saw the book, and pointed out to the dealer (and George R.R. Martin, who was standing there) that the spine read “Rouge Queen,” which would be a different book entirely.

    Posted by  on  07/19  at  11:51 PM
  47. The finest typo in history surely has to be from the Guardian. It’s in an interview with Sir Jack Hayward, the chairman of an English football team, Wolverhampton Wanderers, that had just been promoted from the First Division (which is in fact the second division) to the Premier League (which is really the first division). Anyway:

    “We mistakenly attributed to him this comment: ‘Our team was the worst in the first division, and I’m sure it’ll be the worst in the Premier League.’ Sir Jack had just declined the offer of a hot drink. What he said was, ‘Our tea was the worst in the first division, and I’m sure it’ll be the worst in the Premier League.’ Profuse apologies.”

    Posted by  on  07/20  at  06:39 AM
  48. I once read some econ paper that explained that when buyer and seller have equal power, that situation is called “parody.”

    Posted by  on  07/20  at  08:17 AM
  49. Clearly, parody is dead.  But it’s good to see a citation of the publication so closely associated with typos that it is sometimes affectionately referred to as the Grauniad....

    Posted by Michael  on  07/20  at  09:02 AM
  50. Back during my Penn State days, the library had done one of those library-casings on a paperback version of a famous Kafka novel. Or perhaps I should say his little known Western, for the spine read “The Trail.”

    Posted by George  on  07/20  at  03:02 PM
  51. Sadly this ABC News story headline is not a typo, Critics Slam Overweight Surgeon General Pick, Regina Benjamin.

    Posted by  on  07/21  at  09:42 PM
  52. The orifice remains open when individuals are out of the water.

    Whence the term “orifice hours.”

    Posted by  on  07/22  at  01:25 AM
  53. Fast forwarded through the comments b/c we’re on the way out the door right now, but I have to ask how much Tom Tomorrow is getting for that 1 illustrations.  I’m assuming your “reprint free” was some kind of koan rather than a typo.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  07/22  at  12:40 PM
  54. Oh, how lovely and delicious.  My post on typos contains a most appropriate typo!  I don’t want to say how many $$ I offered Mr. Tomorrow, but I will say that he responded by saying that my offer was about twice his usual fee, and I responded by saying that this was a most unusual negotiation in which I would probably have to increase my initial offer in order to offset his refusal to haggle.

    Posted by  on  07/22  at  01:28 PM
  55. Oh, how lovely and delicious.

    It’s like great weather on your wedding day!*

    *Actually, I sometimes have a bit of “leave Alanis Morissette aaaa-loooone!” reaction to the “Irony” bashing**. Requires a longer discussion than would fit into the comment section of a week-old post, but people don’t give her enough credit for the unvoiced subtext in some of the “examples” ... because they’re all big poopyheads.

    **Despite gleefully engaging in it myself, because I am an especially big poopyhead.

    Posted by  on  07/23  at  08:44 AM
  56. I once reviewed an academic book (from a respected Uni press) that had a passage that had an odd argumentative progression:  “on the one hand,” and later in the same paragraph, “on the other hand,” and, further down in the same paragraph, “on the other hand.” It was a three handed argument!  While it is possible that the author did indeed have three hands (and, if so, I’m sorry for poking fun), it seems more of an editorial SNAFU!

    Posted by  on  07/31  at  11:15 AM
  57. A nice tribute to Harry Truman, who once asked if the State Department could be staffed by amputee war veterans, who would not keep saying “On the other hand”.

    Posted by  on  07/31  at  02:31 PM
  58. I’ve got one. The collection “Irish Writing in the Twentieth Century” includes a piece by Daniel Corkery about the bardic tradition in Ireland, which romanticizes the creativity of the Irish people in a very ethno-nationalist way. The text reads:

    But when material conditions are harder, when life is bitter, starved and harassed with care, when the opportunity of outside development is withheld, then the spirit is forced back upon itself, and its external need of happiness drives it to other outlets: its expression of beauty is changed, and takes a less external character, and it seeks refuge in more intimate arts, such as poverty and music.

    No one does poverty quite like the Irish!

    Posted by  on  08/05  at  07:54 PM
  59. Sounds like McCourt (rip).

    I found a link to the picture I was trying to post before, “Womens sandals” sold by Sears under the brand name “Apostrophe”: http://jprschaefer.blogspot.com/2007/06/apostrophe.html

    Posted by  on  08/15  at  09:29 AM
  60. Excellent piece of collect ones again dude. I am going to collect this book-related information now. Please share with us more smile

    Posted by HCG Diet  on  05/02  at  08:12 AM





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