Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Between You & Me: confessions of a Comma Queen

by Mary Norris

I've been called a "grammar nazi" plenty of times. Language evolves, casual and colloquial is fine for some contexts, let's not get into all that...

This book is not so much a rant about grammar or style, and it's not a catalog of rules or mistakes. While it does delve into some of the finer details of correct* grammar, this book also shares a lot about the author's career at the New Yorker magazine and people she's known over the years — some of which is quite interesting and most of which is at least a little interesting, but these stories can seem boring and unnecessary if you thought you were just going to be reading about grammar.

I felt as if I didn't like the book much immediately after reading it, but I like it more in retrospect. In particular, I'm somewhat enamored of her obsession with pencils and pencil sharpeners, and I enjoyed the discussion of the history of Webster's dictionary/-ies and the various editions.

* Style- and grammar-wise, the New Yorker is mostly very conservative, but it also has those lovely, quirky house-style things, such as the diaeresis in words like reƫlection, that are unique to the magazine.

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