|Karen Elizabeth Gordon|
As I have been obsessing a little about grammar and such, I am reminded of two of my favorite writers – Karen Elizabeth Gordon and Lynne Truss.
If you are uncertain about your grounding in grammar, punctuation, or usage (and if you went to school between the late sixties and the 1980s, you probably should be), you should seek out the works of these two clever women.
Unlike the inimitable (and insufferable) Elements of Style, Gordon’s and Truss’ books are funny and encouraging.
Gordon’s The Transitive Vampire: a Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed came to my rescue back when I was struggling to teach that which I had never been taught. It has since been released in an updated edition, and joins her other books exploring the English language in all its unruly glory.
Twenty years after Gordon’s Vampire created a subgenre for funny grammar books, Lynne Truss’ Eats, Shoots & Leaves burst on the scene to amuse and convict all of us about our increasingly-casual approach to punctuation.
Gordon’s books address a broader range of issues and have the distinct advantage of indices, while Eats, Shoots and & Leaves is more of a “why” than a “how” book and may inspire the reader to taking up a crusade (the chapter on Apostrophes inspired Kathy and I in our surreptitious attacks on posters and signs in a number of Boston hospitals).
You should probably still keep a copy of the AP Stylebook on your shelf, but spending some time with these funny Ladies of Grammar will almost certainly make you a better – and happier – writer.