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Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

de Mary Norris (Author & Reader)

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MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
7663222,316 (3.58)59
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 and finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a language book full of practical advice. Between You & Me features Norris's 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. 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 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."… (més)
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I learned some things. I laughed quite a bit. I utterly failed to convince a stranger of the hilarity of a punctuation-based joke. (Though I believe I did convince him that I was mad, harmless, but mad.)

I must say that I was terribly put off by Ms. Norris telling something in the book that she was specifically asked "not to advertise." Additionally, the epilogue was a poor ending. It felt as though she had this excellent little story to share that just didn't fit in anywhere else, so it was tacked on to the end. Ending the book with the last chapter would have been preferable.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Sep 23, 2021 |
In this unique blend of memoir and grammar guide, we get to follow along with Mary Norris, who worked as a copy editor at The New Yorker, as she waxes eloquent about style whether it be comma usage, hyphens, semicolons, the use of taboo language in print, or her preferences for a No. 1 pencil and a good pencil sharpener.

I enjoyed listening to Mary Norris read her own prose (and helpfully spelling out words or vocalizing the punctuation as needed), and her sense of fun when it comes to usage. Yes, there are rules. In fact, I was delighted and amused to find out that The New Yorker uses the second edition of Webster's dictionary first for spelling and usage, for example - I would have chosen Webster's Third myself, but that's the descriptionist in me coming out. She also has a good sense of humor about it all and isn't rigid about what's "right", occasionally including examples where authors break the usage rules but it works better their way. Sometimes grammar is personal, as she discovers when her sister transitioned and Mary had to relearn saying "she" when she most naturally went for "he." Most delightfully, her training means that she's intrigued when something is unexpected, and will go on a bit of research to figure out who put the hyphen in Moby-Dick the title when the whale is simply Moby Dick. I didn't always agree with her style preferences (I don't mind a singular "they"), nor did I always follow her more technical explanations, but I loved getting to see how the mind of a copy editor works and appreciated her eye for style and ear for language. ( )
  bell7 | Nov 28, 2020 |
An amiable ramble, partly about The New Yorker, partly about punctuation, partly about pencil sharpeners. ( )
  dmturner | Jun 29, 2020 |
Charming and delightful. ( )
  jostie13 | May 14, 2020 |
The New Yorker’s readers demand the highest standards of copy, and Mary Norris has been of of those editors for the past three decades giving the readers what they demand. Having sharpened all her pencils, she now brings us her take on the newspaper business and the (American) English language. Working her way through the most common language issues, such as spelling, commas, when to swear, and when not to. She investigates the less common punctuation, extols the use of the hyphen – excessively perhaps and contemplates the genders. Drawing from classic works by Dickens and Melville and reasonably up to date works by Flynn and Wallace she aims to enlighten us in the ways and foibles of our language, from the Oxford comma to the apostrophe that wanders up and down the word depending on the profession.

This is not a bad read overall; it is fairly short, light hearted and informative and she writes with a gentle humour. Whilst she goes in to the minutiae of language with regards to punctuation, it is very much centred on the The New Yorker and her work there. There are some good parts, the chapter on profanity is quite amusing, her ventures into the historical reasons behind certain word uses and her penchant for a particular type of pencil. It is almost trying to do too much; is it a memoir of her work at the paper or a book on language? I’m still not sure. Worth reading, but if you are looking for a book on the delights of language, pop it back on the shelf. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Norris, MaryAuthor & Readerautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Books, RecordedPublisherautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Cipriano, EllenDissenyadorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Haggar, DarrenDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Weiland, MattEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Has d'iniciar sessió per poder modificar les dades del coneixement compartit.
Si et cal més ajuda, mira la pàgina d'ajuda del coneixement compartit.
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Premis i honors
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Of course, when you correct the errors of others, do so with kindness, in hope that later writers will be as kind when they correct yours.

—Francis A. Burkle-Young and Saundra Rose Maley, The Art of the Footnote
Dedicatòria
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For you and you
and you.
Primeres paraules
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Introduction
Let's get one thing straight from the beginning: I didn't set our to be a comma queen.
"Weird" has long been one of my favorite words, and I'm sure I overuse it.
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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 and finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a language book full of practical advice. Between You & Me features Norris's 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. 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 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."

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