Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review: Between You and Me

I listened to Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris. Perhaps I would have had different feelings for the book if I had read it in paper form, with the added plus of being able to skim and pick and choose what I wanted to focus on and what I wanted to skip past. I don't know. I'm not a big fan of grammar and the picking apart of correct usage to begin with. I don't relish the chance to review and correct someone else's words. However, as a writer, I know that grammar is a necessary tool and one that I could utilize better with more instruction. Thus, my desire to pick up this book. It was an experience akin to poking oneself in the eye repeatedly with an ice pick. I'm not sure why I kept listening except that I was hoping to glean wisdom and, frankly, didn't have another audio book in reserve to turn to during my daily walk on the treadmill.

Alas, it was tiresome, tiresome, tiresome! I felt every. single. mile for the whole seven days it took to complete. Even the humor fell flat for me and I couldn't rouse myself to feel very enthusiastic about what was presented. I know that the author was attempting to provide a combined reference/humor book, but I could have done without full sections of the book (one chapter devoted to profanity - why? seriously! why would this be in a book discussing grammar? - one chapter devoted to the history of the pencil and her preference for a number one pencil). As for the profanity chapter, I was just lucky my young boys didn't enter the room during the bantering of expletives flying about through the performance.

The author comes well-recommended. She is, after all, a member of The New Yorker's copy department. If she is a lover of language, as the back cover proclaims, she didn't manage to pass her love on to this reader. Instead, my own love of language was diminished in listening to her diatribes about the various subjects she chose. While I did receive instruction on tricky things like "who" versus "whom," "that" versus "which," dangling modifiers, and compound words, it was still as boring as could be and even the injected humor failed to cheer me up. The only cheer I proclaimed was a hearty "Praise God," when the book was over and I could begin my next audio experience.

Surely there has to be someone who could make the learning of grammar a delightful experience. If you know of such a book, please enlighten me. Maybe someone will come up with a video game where the player receives prizes and advances levels when they can correctly use grammar. Just don't look to me to come up with such a game. Grammar remains a necessary evil in my book.


Diane Martin said...

Hi Wendy,
I came across your blog and remembered you from dekalb. It was fun to read about your family after your move. I have also moved from dekalb and now live in portland, or. I am always looking for good books to read and enjoyed your reviews.
Diane martin (former Littlejohn assistant and teacher, mom to lorelei, Colin and patrick)

Wendy said...

Diane - How wonderful to hear from you! I remember many a happy moment at the DeKalb pool with you and your twins. So glad you visited my blog and sent greetings. Hope life is treating you well in your new abode.