Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

Mary Norris / Aug 20, 2019

Between You Me Confessions of a Comma Queen Mary Norris has spent 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

  • Title: Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen
  • Author: Mary Norris
  • ISBN: 9780393240184
  • Page: 300
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Mary Norris has spent 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 someMary Norris has spent 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.

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      Published :2019-05-22T19:16:33+00:00

    About "Mary Norris"

      • Mary Norris

        Mary Norris began working at The New Yorker in 1978 Originally from Cleveland, she now lives in New York.


    115 Comments

    1. If commas are open to interpretation, hyphens are downright Delphicw that i see i was not the only one to be mysteriously gifted with a copy of this book in the mail and that even people like melki, who exhibits flawless grammar despite having to type with giant clumsy bear paws, were similarly singled out, i feel less self-conscious about my casual butchery of my mother tongueis is one of those books equal parts instructive and fun. it's closer to a memoir than a primer, but the anecdotes about [...]


    2. Mary Norris has been carving text into shape at The New Yorker for so long, over thirty years, that she probably deserves an honorary MD in plastic surgery. She could definitely tell you, for example, whether "boob-job" requires a hyphen, or is correct as two separate words, and would definitely know the proper usage of nip and tuck. Between You and Me is both a memoir of her career in the copy department of that illustrious magazine and a look at some of the history, vagaries, and proper usage [...]


    3. I was completely surprised when this book arrived in the mail. I'm guessing that someone at W.W.Norton has read my reviews and decided I needed a primer. Thank you. I learned quite a bit.In her thirty-five years as a copy editor at The New Yorker, Mary Norris has read, and corrected, quite a a few pages of writing, and she's developed some strong opinions on the subject. Her chapters cover a wide variety of subjects, from gender to profanity. In addition to pondering all forms of punctuation, sh [...]


    4. I once casually asked a friend how her grandson’s graduation ceremony had gone, and she responded that she and her husband, both schoolteachers, had been quite distracted by the number of errors in the program. “That’s the kind of thing that drives Lou and I crazy,” she explained. I was tempted to say, “That drives I crazy too.”Well, if you don’t quite get that -- or could care less -- then “Between You & Me” is not going to be your kind of book. In fact, Mary Norris’ com [...]


    5. A master copy editor for The New Yorker manages to fill over two hundred pages with nothing of substance. This is a dizzy, unfocused tome that bounces between stories about packing mozzarella to gendered pronouns and how the author really wanted to be a cabbie. Although I am rather a grammar stickler, and abused apostrophes make me cry out in agony, I'm also an aborted linguistics minor (major in French). My linguistics professor subscribed to descriptive (not prescriptive) linguistics, i.e. the [...]


    6. What a delightful book! It's as if someone took my favorite genre (memoir) and made it about my favorite topic (grammar). Could a book be any more tailor made for me? Luckily, it held up to my expectations.Mary Norris didn't always intend to be an editor. In fact, after college she worked at a costume rental store, as a milkman, and as a cheese packer. Then she decided to move to New York, and through a family friend, she found a job at The New Yorker. Never could there have been a more perfect [...]


    7. Mary Norris’ conversational, confessional manner first made me think that the person always behind the scenes at The New Yorker, America’s prestigious literary magazine, wanted her day in the sun. “ME!” I imagined her pointing, two thumbs to her chest, “I’m HERE!” The more I read, though, the more chummy she seemed. “I want to read what you guys are saying on the web, in reviews, articles, and blogs,” she seemed to be saying, “but don’t bug me with bad punctuation. It’s n [...]


    8. Not really for me. I was expecting something along the lines of Eats, Shoots and Leaves especially as the blurb said it was laugh aloud funny. It really was not. Sometimes I think the author found herself funny but it was not on my entertainment radar at all.There were some good bits, some mildly amusing anecdotes and some informative sections although these usually got too bogged down to finish them. I persevered and completed the book but I could not say I enjoyed it or even actually learned a [...]


    9. *I won a copy of this book through First Reads in exchange for an honest review.*A self-proclaimed grammar nerd, I cringe while reading published works that confuse "lie" and "lay" or subjective and objective pronouns. I could hardly wait to receive and begin reading Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, as I expected the book to be a funny collection of grammatical tragedies. How very disappointed I was - not due to poor quality but because of false advertising. First, I believe [...]


    10. “What is a semicolon, anyway?” Is it half a colon? Is it a period on top of a comma? Or an apostrophe that has been knocked down and pinned by a period?”Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen is the first book by Mary Norris, who has been on the staff of The New Yorker for some 35 years, and a Page OK’er for twenty of those. She has been referred to by some as a prose goddess, or a comma queen, and indeed, a whole chapter of this book is devoted to comma usage, and cleverly t [...]


    11. I really wanted to like this book. I'm constantly fascinated by the nature of English, and I'm also a bit pedantic about correct spelling, grammar and usage. I was ready for an entertaining look at the evolution of our current version of English, and how the role of copy editor can have far-reaching influences. However, I found it rather difficult to engage with the author's dry writing style, and her somewhat haphazard tour around aspects of the language. In the end, I realised I was thoroughly [...]


    12. In an interview with none other than The Chicago Manual of Style’s Carol Fisher Saller (see her way up there, atop my pedestal?), Mary Norris said: One day, I came to the glum conclusion that my job was pointing out other people’s mistakes (my younger sibling said to me, “You should be good at that”), and I worried that the job was cultivating that trait in me, a pleasure in finding fault with people. I couldn’t order this book fast enough. Proofreaders are the nitpickers of the world. [...]


    13. Best regards to W. W. Norton, who provided me with a copy in exchange for a review.This memoir of a copy-editor is a glimpse of a world we first saw in DFW's essay "Authority and American Usage". It is not so much politics, but an intense discussion over technical detail over American English, with intense debates over the placement and usage of dashes, commas, gender-neutral pronouns, and semicolons. There's also a delightful section on the use of profanity which starts with George Carlin and T [...]


    14. 100% delightful.If you're the kind of person who laughs at funny anecdotes concerning apostrophes, read this book.If you're the kind of person who finds personification of punctuation marks hilarious, read this book.If you're the kind of person who thinks a whole chapter devoted to pencils is rather charming, read this book.I do enjoy a good grammar-themed book, and it was interesting to read stories of the author's experience as a copy editor for the New Yorker. Highly recommended for word nerd [...]


    15. 2.5 stars. I had actually started this audiobook on my flight back from Dallas a while ago, but got bored and switched gears. Which didn't bode well for the rest of the book, but I persevered Yay?This was just kind of a slog. For a certain type of audience, one with patience and grace and all sorts of virtues I possess not, this will be a delightful punctuation text-slash-memoir. But for me It wasn't. It just wasn't. I could not wait for her to get to the point of so many sidebars. WHY did I lis [...]


    16. Oh come on, how am I only hearing about this now? A book by a copyeditor that is part memoir, part cultural grammatical history of the world, part style guide—I have got to be like the #1 person in the target demographic for this. I feel like the universe owes me a copy just because both I and this book exist on the same terrestrial plane. Don't you think?Also, here's from Julia Holmes' review in the New Republic:In the face of an etymological mystery, Norris is “ecstatic.” She retraces th [...]


    17. Featured in 's "Best Books of the Year So Far 2015: Nonfiction"Pedantry made fashionable. That's no mean feat, but you'd expect nothing less from Mary Norris of New Yorker fame. Gather all your misplaced commas and wait for further instruction. In an age where the exclamation mark has lost all character, it's just good to know some people still care.Here's a few people who agree:‘Very funny, lucid, and lively…[Norris’] love of language transcends all, reconnecting the alienated pieces of t [...]


    18. Five star probably only to those who follow and revere New Yorker magazine. Written by one of its copy editors, the book is rife with anecdotes about fellow staff members, the magazine's strict copy style, and conundrums about grammar and punctuation. (I did skim some of the grammar parts.) Norris is witty and turns what could be a ho-hum topic into many chuckles and a great read. She includes stories from her own personal life, as well, including a hilarious party for pencil fanciers in NYC whe [...]


    19. I had high hopes for this book. It is written smoothly enough. No doubt we can benefit from Norris' advice, but ultimately it felt like reading a longish tome on varieties of thumbtacks or thread spools, not something most would voluntarily do. And is it required that so many books published knock the political right or is there just a majority of authors and editors who hold those beliefs and can't restrain themselves? In a book about punctuation the author's opinion on Reagan was gratuitous, a [...]


    20. Mary Norris has a very chatty tone when she's telling you about the spelling and grammar mistakes she's corrected in her career at the New Yorker, and it's easy to forget how remarkable her information is. She's talking about a certain language rule, and to illustrate, she tells you about a particular sentence she corrected years ago and the iterations it went through. But every once in while I had to stop to ponder: is her memory just that incredible? or was the sentence that memorable? or did [...]


    21. Word nerds and grammar groupies, unite! With Comma Queen Mary Norris as our fearless leader, perhaps we can change the world, one dangling participle and misplaced modifier at a time.We can only hope, right? Okay, so maybe we can't change the world, but if you're in love with language, this is the book for you. You'll learn the basis for some of the editing standards used at "The New Yorker," and find out if copy editor Norris is bugged by the same common errors that drive YOU crazy. See what th [...]


    22. 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 – excessiv [...]


    23. I received this book for free from a giveaway.Let me start by saying, bless, Mary Norris. I believe she is a talented writer and when it comes to grammar, punctuation, and general conventions of the English language, she certainly knows her stuff. I believe she did the best job she could with this book.I should have been in the target audience for this book. I have taught English, my grandmother taught English, and I was raised with a mother who was often referred to as a "grammar nazi", but th [...]


    24. For all of us who love a grammar nerd, (and who does not???) this book is a perfect read. Quick, funny and enlightening on some things about our wonderful language that I have wondered about.


    25. Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen is copy editor Mary Norris’ autobiographical style manual of sorts detailing her own voyage to The New Yorker’s copy desk and her encounters with the god- awful grammar she’s had to face at her job and in her everyday life. Not in any way diminutive or overbearing, Norris’ stern but open-minded perspective offers rules more as suggestions based on context rather than mandates required by grammatical law. Constantly throwing out expletive [...]


    26. I now question every sentence I write. In all seriousness, this is a great book for a reader to dive into. I won't lie, parts where a bit dry for my tastes. I could only force myself to pay attention to pronouns and apostrophe usage for so long. The real gems for me are Norris's anecdotes as a copy editor and experiences that enrich the points she is making. When she is describing sentence structure and the uses of semicolons or commas, I found myself wishing my brain worked liked hers. So eager [...]


    27. An audience for Between You and Me, a New York Times bestseller, is somewhere out there -- obviously. I'm just having difficulty figuring out who's in that vast audience. The subtitle of the work (Confessions of a Comma Queen) encouraged me to think that I would be among those delighted by Mary Norris's book. I'll admit that I harbor some of the feelings about grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors that Norris owns. But while editors, proofreaders, composition teachers, et al. may sympathize [...]


    28. I spent a hot summer before my sophomore year in college studying my Grammar for Journalists book. I was preparing for the dreaded test that the University of Wisconsin Journalism School gave prospective students as part of the admissions process, and was told that more than 60 percent failed. I was one of the fortunate who passed, and thus began my obsession with grammar. Sometimes this obsession can drive me bonkers. I catch grammatical mistakes on billboards, television screens, web sites and [...]


    29. I won this book for free through First Reads. First let me say that you will only appreciate this book if you're one of those people who silently corrects your friends' grammar in your head. I am one one of those people, so I enjoyed this book. I found it informative, and it did teach me things that I had either wondered about or that had never occurred to me, things I found very useful as a self proclaimed grammar cop. I liked the writer's voice and I found her humorous and entertaining. That [...]



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