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The Transitive Vampire

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,017 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Playful, practical, this is the style book you can't wait to use, a guide that addresses classic questions of English usage with wit & black humor. Black-&-white illustrations throughout.
Sentences & what we mean by them
Words & what kinds of words they are
More on verbs
Adjectives & adverbs
Arriving at agreements
Hardcover, 159 pages
Published August 10th 1993 by Times Books (NYC) (first published January 1st 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,495)
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Ksenia Anske
Quirky, fast-paced, imaginative. A take on grammar unlike you've seen in any grammar books. I would say, I enjoyed reading it more than trying to understand what it was talking about, given the fact that English is not my first language. I did glimpse a few things that were useful, and hopefully they will stay put in my head, but the rest happily whooshed out of my brain the moment I closed this book. And perhaps the ornate vocabulary had something to do with it. It distracted me at times, at ti ...more
I liked aspects of this book, but would not use it as a textbook. As it is a textbook, that is very much a problem.

The grammar presented is so much simpler than the vocabulary. One might argue that both are alike in their archaicisms; I would not. The vocabulary is rich and complex, and almost any reader will probably reach for their dictionary a time or two, and be all the better for having done so. However I felt that any reader who could happily work through the example sentences would alrea
Gothic-themed grammar guide, read in preparation for the copy test I have to take later today. *gulp* The sample sentences in this book are certainly more diverting than the ones you were likely to have studied in school (for the five minutes the teacher bothered with grammar, if your schooling was anything like mine). For example, demonstrating subject-verb agreement, Gordon gives us: "Gawking out of the corner of his eye was a man who adored stevedores. Beneath the honeysuckle were the caresse ...more
Heather *Thermonuclear Bomb of Death*
Grammar and vampires? WHERE has this book been all my life?


This should be a helpful reference for me, since I definitely won't remember the fine details of, say, participles. I love grammar and can use it properly for the most part, but I couldn't tell you all about clauses or anything. I can name the helping verbs. That's smart, right?

Anyway, I found the example sentences within really awkward. Grammatically correct, sure, but awkward nonetheless, and it distracted me.

Her antic yet coer
I feel really bad about giving this only two stars —"it was okay" — but my reaction was quite the letdown. Meh.

But as I forced myself to read further, I realize the problem is that while the conceit behind the book is clever, it really doesn't work.

This book, at its heart, is a collection of grammatical examples, with a short snippet of explanatory introduction to introduce each concept, and sometimes to link various terms together.

The author attempts to spice things up by using a mildly breathl
Erik Graff
Apr 29, 2015 Erik Graff rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Erik by: Tom & Caroline Miley
Shelves: reference
The central conceit of this very brief English grammar is the use of macabre and/or silly examples and illustrations. While the examples, albeit only sophomorically funny, are useful, the black-and-white illustrations contribute nothing. Reading it, I was reminded of why I disliked and/or was no good at grammar lessons in elementary school. Thank heavens that a barely passable B- on a grammar test got me into accelerated English classes in high school!
Frank Anderson
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire by Karen Elizabeth Gordon

Unlike most writing handbooks, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire is as entertaining as it is packed with repetitive and creative examples. Instead of presenting article after article, in precise text blocks, the information is structured more to get your attention. Certainly there is the need for, and the style followed for telling you what is being covered, but then there may be a woodcut print to illustrate the point.
For me, the overall mos
Denise Hay
I have to say right off the bat, I've been in love with Karen Elizabeth Gordon for years. Anyone who comes up with the non-sequitur examples that she does, AND knows her grammar and punctuation in the dark without a flashlight, just may be the girl for me. I own all of her books, most in hardcover, and having just retrieved one to find some examples, I can also attest they appear to be crowned with clouds of cat hair and dust. This says a couple of things: I'm a terrible housekeeper (just so not ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Do you write? Well, then you need not just to read this but to keep it readily at hand.
Spencer Distraction
"Everyone is waltzing to a different Johann Strauss." This book ov grammar seems to either align with the language junked up in one's head, or sends the rest away baffled and not bemused. Two classics:
"Remember, sweetie, I'm your crepuscular consort, so don't bother calling me at noon." &
"Hey, girlie, drag your carcass over here!"
This is refreshingly full of antiquated and archaic vocabulary. It's a fun combination of my interests in both language/grammar and the macabre. As an added bonus the text predictor on my phone now includes words such as crepuscular (resembling twilight) and caftan (a wide sleeved middle-eastern undergarment).
A wonderful, amusing, edifying book about grammar. Reading Karen Gordon's contribution to saving the language is an effortless way to sort out all manner of both mundane and exotic features of English usage. Rules and conventions are much more riveting when expressed in Gordon's brash and quirky style. For example: A gerund is the -ing form of a verb, and it gets to live the unpredictable life of a noun, buffeted about by caprices and verbs. OR Without phrases, sentences would be starkly inhospi ...more
Deborah Markus
My new grammar read. The grammar lessons are witty and helpful, but the vampire persona who writes the chapter intros doesn't quite work for me.
Steve Thomas
This is actually a handbook on grammar. This is the only book that could be classified as a textbook that you will enjoy reading for pleasure - even on the toilet! Because it is enjoyable - you will be surprised at how it will improve your writing. Don't take this review as an example - I usually do these when I am into three whiskey drinks on a late Saturday night. But the very fact that these reviews are even legible can be attributed to this book. I finally leanred the appropriate use of the ...more
I need to study up now that I write professionally.


"Similar fidelity holds where a pronoun appositive appears: it still takes the same case as the word to which it's in apposition...

"Let's you and me get together and do away with some of the possibilities. (you and me are in apposition to the us in let's: let us)"

I didn't know that.


More surprises:

"When singular and plural subjects are joined by the correlative conjunctions either...or, neither...nor, not only...but also, not...but, the ver
There are two kind of good books to legitimately hate: Those that do what you planned to do, but better; and those that do what you planned to do, but worse. Unfortunately this is the latter. I was so excited about writing the Darkwater Grammar because I thought I was original, then I found this book and I was moderately excited because I thought I could at least use this in my classes. Turns out that lesser hope, too, is dashed through Gordon's arcane vocabulary, poor organization, and occasion ...more
For a book on grammar, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire has more imagination and verve than many works of fiction. In reading it, my attention faded out on the actual bits about grammar and instead I was captivated by her examples: "Bellowing complaints in the square at dawn left half the population with laryngitis and the remainder plagued with doubts." While I obviously appreciate Gordon's linguistic prestidigitation, I actually found it a bit distracting from the definitions of grammar she was s ...more
This is kind of a fun read--it's unlike any other grammar handbook you've met. Gordon has a gothic writing style and a wild and flowery vocabulary, which is very different from the straightforward, matter-of-fact tone you find in a typical grammar book. Gordon's sentences are peopled with vampires and mastodons, debutantes and gargoyles and trolls, and her characters get up to all sorts of mischief. It's much more interesting than the bland sorts of examples you'll find elsewhere. Maybe it's jus ...more
What a cool book. I've been wanting to brush up on my grammar skills for years, but the thought of hunkering down with a style manual for a weekend was downright intolerable. Thanks to The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, I finally know the difference between who and whom and a host of other grammar oddities, and I no longer feel as if I'm making up my own version of the English language.

My only complaint is that Gordon's cleverness sometimes gets in the way of clarity. I found myself breezing throug
This is the best grammar book I've ever encountered! With it's gothic style and often odd example sentences, this book makes reviewing your grammar rules interesting. I will be referring to this whenever I need a reminder on how certain rules work. I plan to get this author's other language related books, too.
Jun 22, 2008 Rosie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anglophiles and anglophobes alike
Recommended to Rosie by: Jen F.
This is a grammar handbook, but don't let that fact send you running. This book contains hilarious sentences to illustrate plain-old grammar concepts like predicate nouns and subordinate clauses. The author uses a few characters such as mythical creatures, courtesans, and magicians to guide the reader through the labyrinth of our language, and always leaves me chuckling. I have this book lying around mny house, making it easy for me to pick it up in a moment of boredom. The benefits are two-fold ...more
Want to be a better writer and get a fun review on those pesky adverbs and adjectives? This fun book will do that for you. A great addition to any writer's library.
Cynthia Wood
Not quite what I was expecting. More a pretty straightforward book of grammar, heavy emphasis on examples, examples tending to the gothic. Not much else.
Now this is a fun book about grammar. I picked it up to fill a gap in my education, but finished it because I was enjoying it so much.
Araminta Matthews
While it is simply a primer on all things English grammar, this is certainly the most interesting book I've ever read on the subject. Rather than deliver the same boring diatribe of grammar rules and regulations (e.g. Strunk and White), it deliberately weaves grammar rules with Victorian macabre. The sentences used to illustrate grammar are all a little Edward Gorey (i.e. "Her fiance is a somnabulist"). It is full of illustrations (mostly lithographs and pen and ink sketches from the late ninete ...more
Gail Ann Gibbs
Fun to read, though books like these are better as refreshers than for someone learning English grammar for the first time.
Kevin Hartley
I enjoyed the concept of this better than the execution. It straddles the line between text book and humor, but doesn't do it very well. Other reviewers have already phrased it particularly well. I think that this could work for a high school audience in some cases, but not as a general-use textbook. I really wanted to enjoy this, but it became much more of a slog to actually enjoy it.
I'm confused about the intended audience for The Transitive Vampire, since I suspect that most readers who can understand its vocabulary and references are not in need of much grammar instruction. I was hoping to find entertaining examples to use in class, but most of the ones in this book would be too confusing or distracting to be effective. (For example: "His particular sadistic specialty was contumely, which Melissa craved with an abject thirst.") Still, it's a relatively amusing and instru ...more
Robin Conley
I'm conflicted about this book. It is a fun grammar book, but unlike most grammar books it really pushes things with the vocabulary. While I normally don't mind elevated vocabulary within books, in a grammar book that is meant to teach someone basic grammar, you'd think the authors/editors would choose more basic vocabulary. It took the simple explanations, and made them much more complicated, which may make the book less appealing to some. I enjoyed the book overall, but didn't feel like it was ...more
My mom, the grammarian, bought me this book and I have to say I love it. There are a handful of people on this earth that find grammar genuinely interesting, and I happen to be one of them. As Henry Higgens remarked "Her English is too perfect, that clearly indicates that she is foreign; while other people are instructed in their native language English people aren't." Perhaps I should carry it around just to whack idiots that say "me and her went to the movies." Honestly this is a fun useful re ...more
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Karen Elizabeth Gordon, who is most well-known for her comic language handbooks The New Well-Tempered Sentence and The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, is also author to a collection of short stories published by Dalkey Archive Press. The Red Shoes and Other Tattered Tales was hailed by many critics as Rabelaisian in its humor.

Gordon resides alternately in Berkeley, California and Paris.

from http://www.
More about Karen Elizabeth Gordon...
Paris Out of Hand: A Wayward Guide The New Well Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed The Disheveled Dictionary: A Curious Caper Through Our Sumptuous Lexicon Torn Wings and Faux Pas: A Flashbook of Style, a Beastly Guide Through the Writer's Labyrinth Out of the Loud Hound of Darkness: A Dictionarrative

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“A pronoun, too, will aptly reflect the number of its antecedent: 'they' does not refer to one person, no matter how many personalities she or he has, or how eager you are to skirt the gender frays.” 0 likes
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