Sunday, May 17, 2015

Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris

18.  A book published this year

This book came onto my radar when the author published a short article about her 30 year career as a copy editor at the New Yorker. The article was so charming that I requested her book from the library before it was even out.  By the time I got to the queue there were already 3 people on it.

This is such a charming book, I don't know where to begin with my praise: her explanation of her job as a copy editor at one of the most prestigious and highly regarded magazines in history replete with anecdotes about authors, and how customs came to be, and how she views various punctuation conundrums; her story about finding her first major error (flour instead of flower) just before the magazine went to press and getting thanks and praise for it and taking herself out for a beer to celebrate; the story of which dictionaries they use and why; or her love of a good pencil, and eraser and pencil sharpener. The epilogue is especially poignant.

This book is a word lover and readers delight.  I smiled throughout, laughed audibly multiple times and read many passages aloud to my husband who is a language and word maven.  Yes, there are times when her discussion of the use of the dash got a little too detailed for me, but those small parts paled in comparison to the whole book which was a fascinating discussion of writing, usage, the great New Yorker magazine and the evolution of language in all its beauty.  

It made me smile thinking of all my editor friends who spend a great deal of time, as Ms Norris does, mulling over the proper placement of dashes and commas and semi-colons.  Auto-correct be damned!

You already know if you are word maven enough to enjoy this book.  Check it out.  (Ann Hicks, if you read this, I think you will love it.)

No comments: