This isn’t your stodgy English teacher’s grammar guide. Norris’s endearing and surprisingly entertaining memoir offers a candid look at the glorious subtleties of language — and the trials and tribulations of the copy department in one of our nation’s most revered literary institutions: The New Yorker. Recommended By Renee P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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, 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."
"Mary Norris has an enthusiasm for the proper use of language that’s contagious. Her memoir is so engaging, in fact, that it’s easy to forget you’re learning things." People
"[A] winningly tender, funny reckoning with labor and language." Megan O'Grady, Vogue
"[P]ure porn for word nerds." Allan Fallow, Washington Post
"Ms. Norris, who has a dirty laugh that evokes late nights and Scotch, is…like the worldly aunt who pulls you aside at Thanksgiving and whispers that it is all right to occasionally flout the rules." Sarah Lyall, New York Times
"Hilarious....This book charmed my socks off." Patricia O’Conner, New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Mary Norris began working at The New Yorker in 1978. Originally from Cleveland, she now lives in New York.