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Between You & Me​, Mary Norris

"And it has now been more than twenty years since I became a page OK'er--a position that exists only at The New Yorker, where you query-proofread pieces and manage them, with the editor, the author, a fact checker, and a second proofreader, until they go to press."


"The magazine went to press on Monday afternoon, and the men in makeup, who lived in the Bronx, had come in on the train the night before and stayed in a hotel across the street so that the blizzard wouldn't prevent them from getting work. Their job was to do the page layout, fitting columns and cartoons and counting picas. A notice from the editor, William Shawn, went up on the bulletin board, saying that anyone whose work was not "essential" could go home. Nobody wanted to think they were not essential." p. 11

"One of the things I like about my job is that it draws on the entire person: not just your knowledge of grammar and punctuation and usage and foreign languages and literature but also your experience of travel, gardening, shipping, singing, plumbing, Catholicism, midwesternism, mozzarella, the A train, New Jersey. And in turn it feeds you more experience. In the hierarchy of prose goddesses, I am way, way down the list. But what expertise I have acquired I want to pass along." p. 12

"When Lucette transposes "Kate and I" into prepositional phrases, saying things like "He sent flowers to Kate and I," some lining between my skin and my inner organs begins to shrink. Just once, I murmured "Kate and me"--she is, after all, the chairman of the English department at a world-class university, and I wouldn't want her to be embarrassed--and she responded, "Dialogue!" p. 81

"The thing about the semicolon is that, unless it is being used in the Whitmanesque sense, what follows it must be able to function as its own sentence--and independent clause. The semicolon creates a hook on which to dangle something off the first part of the sentence. (...) Used well, the semicolon makes a powerful impression; misused, it betrays your ignorance." p. 142

"A colon is a very controlling gesture. It says, "Right this way," like a proper butler. A sentence should have only one colon, just as it should have only one period. A butler would never tolerate another butler in the same household." p. 145

"A colon is sometimes preferable to a semicolon if the thrust of the sentence is forward: you are amplifying something providing a definition or a list or an illustration. The semicolon sets up a different relationship; whatever follows relates in a more subtle way to what came before." p. 145

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