A willing subject

If you are an editor, a grammarian, or just someone who enjoys the quirks of the English language, you’re sure to like Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris. I was happily surprised by the great good humour and the tidy fusion of editing memoir and language instruction. Kudos, Ms Norris!

There is no way a single sentence could sum up the many delights of this book, yet one lovely clause keeps ringing through my memory:

Parentheses often act like giant commas, and commas like tiny parentheses. (p. 103)

Graceful, yes? A nice use of rhetorical schemes, without being ostentatious, and a fine, compact observation. The book is full of such gems. Such a pleasure!

Source: Mary Norris, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (New York and London: W.W. Norton and Company, 2015).

Real readers will understand

This excerpt comes from an urban fantasy series about libriomancers, people who are able to use books to produce magic. It expresses, in a tidy rhetorical figure, a feeling I’ve always had about books and reading but never been able to articulate.

I had said before that all stories were magic. It had never occurred to me that all magic was stories.

Jim C. Hines, Unbound (New York: Daw Books, 2014), p. 229