icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

One Writer's Ravings:
A Logophile's Blog
for Language Lovers

Go Ahead, Unmake My Day

In my last post I compared the experience of writing and publishing a book to that of bearing, birthing, and tending to a newborn child. What I failed to underscore was that the exhilarating birth is all too often followed by a wicked case of postpartum blues. What is a proud father supposed to feel when he discovers to his horror that the obstetrician has given his beloved baby a deformed outie, and that the trusted mohel has botched the circumcision?

Not yet a week after The Accidents of Style was ushered wailing into the world, a friend who was writing a review of it for his online column about language informed me that, although he didn't want to "ruin my day," he felt compelled to let me know that in more than a few instances, in the running head at the top of the verso page, my name was misspelled Charles Huntington Elster. My immediate thought was not "My goodness, how could that have happened?" It was "What the FU#$%NG F@&K?!"

With the bile rising in my throat and my blood pressure approaching 280/150, I went on a witch hunt for this erroneous Huntington. I flipped through the entire book and found that this bizarre and improbable mistake had occurred twelve times, with no apparent pattern. My mortified editor consulted the head of production, who eventually fingered the out-of-house compositor -- who, I'd already discovered in mine idlesse, had also managed, in reformatting a paragraph between the final pass and finished book, to mishyphenate Reuters as Re-uters. That sucker had better hightail it to Mexico.

In my next post, I will enter the publishing confessional and tell you about some of the utterly stupid typos that squeaked past my squiffy eyes and into my books. Meanwhile, if you can bear to, please share your anecdotes about your inadvertent, and perhaps heartbreaking, accidents of style.
Be the first to comment