As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really go in for memoirs. Unless I’m interested in the person beforehand or they have an interesting life story, I’m rarely interested. I’ve also never read Hemingway; he simply never appealed to me. But here we are today looking at two memoirs written by men–Hemingway, a writer I’ve little experience with, and Michael Chabon, a writer whom I adore.
In honor of National Grammar Day … it IS “March Fourth” after all … do you have any grammar books? Punctuation? Writing guidelines? Style books?
More importantly, have you read them?
How do you feel about grammar in general? Important? Vital? Unnecessary? Fussy?
The only grammar and punctuation book I own is Lynn Truss’ Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, which revealed to me my personal taste for Oxford commas. It’s a very nice and definitely quick primer, although Truss gets bizarrely depressing in the last chapter. I’ve been meaning to pick up The Elements of Style, but I haven’t had a chance to.
Grammar, of course, is absolutely vital! It’s the very rules we have for speaking in any language. I’m taking a general anthropology class this semester, and we’ve learned about how a pidgin, a halting mix of languages intended to facilitate trade but little else, becomes a creole, an actual, functional language- children who grow up listening and speaking the pidgin develop grammatical rules themselves. In short, grammar makes a language. It’s wildly important.
On Writing by Stephen King
I’ve heard of On Writing off and on throughout my life. I remember a sign in my eighth grade English class that declared one of its main tenets- if you want to write, you’d better read. A lot. As you might imagine, it had quite an effect on a voracious reader like myself.
I’ve always kept personal notes in different ways over the years. When I was a wee lass (here defined as that unfortunate period called middle school), I always wrote with a good, old Bic mechanical pencil in the various notebooks I kept. I refused to write on the backs of the notebook pages, which was quite a waste of space. In these notebooks, I wrote my stories, such as they were, neatly marked in the margins what story it was. I couldn’t bring myself to write something in a notebook that was meant for fiction or something. I did not keep personal notes at all.
I don’t just read fantasy and sci-fi, you know–I do read nonfiction of my own volition. Could I really call myself an omnivore if I didn’t?
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
by Lynn Truss
After an minor fandom disagreement over punctuation that couldn’t be cleared up, I became a lot more interested in punctuation clarification. I consider myself fairly punctuation aware. At a young age, my mother told me that confusing “it’s” and “its” meant I was illiterate. This was after I had showed her some of my angsty preteen poetry; I was so offended that it’s been ingrained into me. Oh, preteen self, how I want to punch you in the teeth.