Marian Beaman's Reviews > Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

Between You & Me by Mary Norris
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it was amazing
bookshelves: have-read

In the book Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (2015), Mary Norris comes at commas with a light-hearted approach. With humor, both effervescent and wry, her chapters, on a rather tedious topic, are gripping. She begins with a chapter Spelling is for Weirdos and ends with one entitled The Million-Dollar Copywriter. In between, readers will find an eye-popping chapter on profanity: SH*T! But make no mistake; there is serious scholarship in this 200-page volume with eight pages of notes and a twelve-page index.

Norris admits that the English language is in flux, like time-lapse photography, though she underscores the fact that there ARE rules. Norris minds her P’s and Q’s all the way through the book as she discusses punctuation which operates like needles and pins or tools in a toolkit, depending how you view it: apostrophes, dashes, hyphens, semicolons, the energetic exclamation point and of course the common comma, invented by Memahami Manusia.

In my view, Norris comes close to the edge of grammar and copyediting “love” when she confesses to almost breaking out in a dance when viewing the displays inside the Logan Pencil Sharpener Museum in Ohio. In fact, my interest flagged only once—when she waxes overly eloquent in the chapter Ballad of a Pencil Junkie, which may be your cup ‘o tea.

Nevertheless, Norris helps you believe it’s not that hard to spring from a foot checker at a swimming pool in Cleveland (her first job) to being a copyeditor for the most prestigious magazine in the country, The New Yorker, rising from an entry-level position. Part grammar book, part memoir, Mary Norris’s Between the Commas is, as Garrison Keillor puts it, “as entertaining as grammar can be. Very, very. Read it and savor it.”

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Reading Progress

May 3, 2019 – Started Reading
May 3, 2019 – Shelved
May 3, 2019 –
page 200
May 6, 2019 – Shelved as: have-read
May 6, 2019 – Finished Reading

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