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The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,204 ratings  ·  131 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, 175 pages
Published 1993 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 1984)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  1,204 ratings  ·  131 reviews

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Start your review of The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: grammar
I liked aspects of this book, but would not use it as a textbook. The problem is it is a textbook.

The grammar presented is so much simpler than the vocabulary. Some 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 already know what a
Ksenia Anske
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reference
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
Dec 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Godawful useless reference. I can’t imagine who is helped by this guide.
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 breath
Spencer Distraction
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"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!"
Frank Anderson
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
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
Mar 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
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).
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, owned
Delightful illustrations and examples. Probably would have given this 4 stars, but I'm comparing it to the original, which I preferred in terms of length and format. It runs through the logical classifications of our our language and each of their uses from individual words through sentences and phrases. Great sense of humor and gothic/Victorian feel to the whole thing.

If we have this much trouble getting subjects and verbs to agree, it's no wonder general human communication lets us down.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire is a crash course through the mechanics of the English language, by way of Gothic literature, mixed with modern witticisms. As much a set of stories told in the margins, as it is a guidebook on when to use "who" versus "whom," this book is presented in a lively, quirky style that will probably leave you with a better grasp of grammar than an entire education from the public school system. Things do get a bit weighty and ponderous toward the end, but the rules set fo ...more
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an imaginative take on a grammar guide, using gothic references to illustrate a variety of grammar and style rules. The book contains many illustrations as well. The examples are clever and entertaining and make what can be a dry subject much more entertaining.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved the many examples in this book
Meaghan Steeves
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
What an excellent, creative, and humorous grammar resource. Having started it just after my grammar course ended it was nice to have a refresher.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
I didn't finish this book. Despite having examples about vampires and other creatures of the night, I found it dry and unamusing.
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of the original 1984 print for decades - but this updated and larger edition is definitely a must own for fans of...well...written language.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Horrible. Had to stop. Much less "doomed" now.
Iami Menotu
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A completely novel grammar book. Thoroughly enjoyable. But needs a slow involved reading.
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
A grammar book that will really hold your interest! And if you like Gorey, you will love the illustrations.
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
Oct 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reference, word-nerd
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
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire is a crash course through the mechanics of the English language, by way of Gothic literature, mixed with modern witticisms. As much a set of stories told in the margins, as it is a guidebook on when to use "who" versus "whom," this book is presented in a lively, quirky style that will probably leave you with a better grasp of grammar than an entire education from the public school system. Things do get a bit weighty and ponderous toward the end, but the rules set fo ...more
Jun 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Araminta Matthews
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writer-reference
For a book on English grammar, this is a lucid explanation of parts of speech and basic syntax, with entertaining examples, whimsical illustrations, and a vivid (if somewhat bossy) voice.

Even so, I found my interest flagging about two-thirds of the way through. I guess that even for a grammar nerd like me, the topic is more of something I look up when I have questions than something I want to read about. Still, this book is a valiant effort to make a dry subject live, and I may keep the book aro
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This didn't exactly hold my attention all the way through.... But it's a book on grammar. And it does what it does very well. Unlike most grammar books, I did find myself paying tension to the examples and illustrations, not just to examine the parts of speech, but also because I was genuinely interested in the examples. Am I going to pick it up for a read through again? Probably not. But I'll be glad to have it on hand next time I'm struggling to remember what a past perfect participle phrase i ...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.

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