An amazing 500+ pages, with a typo at the end
Come Autumn for the last few years, I’ve tried to read literature to accompany the Hallowe’en season. I started with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and over the years have continued with Something Wicked this way Comes, The Witches, and Dracula. It is truly a wonderful thing to be reading one of the classic spooky stories at this time of year, as the air gets cooler, the trees are becoming bare, and the wind is just right. A few years ago I finally dipped into Lovecraft, and then finally read The Shining.
The Shining had been recommended to me several times over, and it is on most ‘top ten scary novel’ lists. For all of that, I didn’t really find it that scary. To be sure, it was the Lovecraft short stories that gave me the chills and that sense of dark wonder.
But I enjoyed it enough that I was eager to read The Shining‘s sequel, Dr. Sleep. This did not disappoint. For me, it was far better than The Shining. It was interesting and exciting and touching. I loved it. King makes the interesting choice of introducing us to a race of villains that is waning in its power and influence, while pitting them against a character that is just coming into a great power. We are not expecting someone to win so much as interested in how naiveté and power will play against experience and cunning. Both sides have traps and plans — and the reader’s need to know how all of these assymetries will match up against each other keep the pages turning and makes the book very difficult to put down.
I devoured this book — it was excellent. And so it was indeed quaint, to come to the end of a great 500 page novel to find a typo on the very last page. So unexpected was this, that I seriously questioned my understanding of the relevant grammar. Would an editor really send this book to print without catching this? Didn’t anyone read the last page to make sure nothing slipped through?
“Fred Carling looked up him, asking what. Asking how. But it was so simple.”
‘Looked up him’? maybe this is a turn of phrase I’m just not familiar with? No, no. It must be ‘looked up at him.’ It must be. How could it not be? But then, how could that mistake happen? There are less than 50 words left in the whole book! How could they let in such a glaring error there??
More baffling, the book was first published in 2013, and the copy I had was printed in 2019. In six years, nobody caught that error? It was never brought to anyone’s attention? They just keep printing the mistake?
Maybe Stephen King is embedding some secret code throughout his novels, and the omission is significant and/or intentional. Maybe this error is meant to tell us something. Perhaps there’s a brilliant conspiracy-minded nerd out there with a blog about The King Code. But if not: it’s somebody’s job to catch those mistakes. It is probably lots of people’s job catch those mistakes.
But there it is: a grammatical error in the last 50 words of a good 500+ page book. Ouch.