Sunday, November 8, 2009
Woe is I
I thought the only book on grammar that I would ever need was Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style (Original Edition). It probably still is, but there’s another that I just plain want, and that’s Patricia T. O’Conner’s Woe Is I.
This book is filled with useful advice and examples, but is also a breezy, amusing read. I like the wrongly constructed sentences such as “Already housebroken, the Queen brought home a new corgi”. Other examples draw on characters from both P. G. Wodehouse and The Simpsons.
If a sentence has a smaller sentence within it (surrounded by dashes or parentheses), don’t use a period to end the “inside” sentence: When Apu made him an offer – “I could use some help around the store” – he accepted.
The book also discusses grammatical rules which may no longer be in effect (e.g. “never split an infinitive”) and includes a section at the start about why English is so complicated compared to languages such as Esperanto. It would be a good addition to a writer’s bookshelf – and a great gift to someone who needs help with grammar but doesn’t want anything dry or didactic.
Because a book with sections titled “Metaphors Be With You” and “Comma Sutra” is anything but.
The title “Woe is I” sums up how I’m feeling right now. I caught what hopefully isn’t the flu last week and am trying to recover before classes start again on Monday… and before the Anatomy practical test on Tuesday. So NaNo (and pretty much everything else) is on the shelf right now.