Mary Norris tells me she prefers to be called a Prose Goddess. But Comma Queen has stuck. Norris, a copy editor at The New Yorker for more than 30 years, is author of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen – just out in paperback. Mary Norris -- with her wonderful sense of humor – helps make us feel more secure in our use of language. She demystifies fine points of grammar and punctuation. She liberates us to break rules that were never really rules to begin with. Her journey -- from a teenager hired to check swimmers for foot-fungus at a public pool in Cleveland -- to published author -- is worth sharing. So is her experience, recounted 23:30 into our conversation, of learning that her brother was becoming her sister (a singer/songwriter known by many New Yorkers) – which leads us back to grammar and the debate over the correct pronoun for transgendered individuals.
April 20, 2016