Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, February 15, 2016

Memoir Monday and... Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris

Mary Norris has spent more than three decades in The New Yorker's copy department, maintaining its celebrated high standards. Now she brings her vast experience, good cheer, and finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a boisterous language book as full of life as it is of practical advice.

Between You & Me features Norris's laugh-out-loud descriptions of some of the most common and vexing problems in spelling, punctuation, and usage―comma faults, danglers, "who" vs. "whom," "that" vs. "which," compound words, gender-neutral language―and her clear explanations of how to handle them. Down-to-earth and always open-minded, she draws on examples from Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, and the Lord's Prayer, as well as from The Honeymooners, The Simpsons, David Foster Wallace, and Gillian Flynn. She takes us to see a copy of Noah Webster's groundbreaking Blue-Back Speller, on a quest to find out who put the hyphen in Moby-Dick, on a pilgrimage to the world's only pencil-sharpener museum, and inside the hallowed halls of The New Yorker and her work with such celebrated writers as Pauline Kael, Philip Roth, and George Saunders.

Readers―and writers―will find in Norris neither a scold nor a softie but a wise and witty new friend in love with language and alive to the glories of its use in America, even in the age of autocorrect and spell-check. As Norris writes, "The dictionary is a wonderful thing, but you can't let it push you around."

Let's face it, if you like to read, you like punctuation. Or maybe you don't like it, but it's a means to an end... you need punctuation. You know when something is off when you're reading. And you hate sentences that seem to never end. I've been eyeing Between You & Me by Mary Norris for some time. With a bit of humor, here's a look at all that "stuff". Originally published in hard cover in April 2015 by W.W. Norton & Co. It's coming out in paperback April 4, 2016.


Harvee said...

Sounds like a good book for the nightstand, to open and enjoy a little at a time.

Suzanne Yester said...

I totally agree Harvee! Thanks for sharing your insight!

thecuecard said...

Yeah I enjoyed Mary Norris's book last year as an audiobook. It's great that she reads it too. Very entertaining. As a former copyeditor I couldn't pass it up. here's my review of it at

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