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Mary Norris

Fee Range: $5000 - $8000

The New Yorker

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Mary Norris

The New Yorker

Mary Norris began working at The New Yorker in 1978, and has been a query proofreader at the magazine since 1993. She has written for The Talk of the Town and for newyorker.com, on topics ranging from her cousin Dennis Kucinich to mud wrestling in Rockaway. She is best known for her pieces on pencils and punctuation. Her first book is “Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen”

Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

The most irreverent and helpful book on language since the #1 New York Times bestseller Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

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.”

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