Norton Publishers
Published by
Norton (2015-04)
Current material
1st Pass Pages
Original language


Confessions of a Comma Queen

by Norris, Mary

An irreverent manifesto about language and the written word, filled with stories from her three decades in the celebrated copy department of The New Yorker.

Mary Norris has spent more than three decades guarding The New Yorker’s grand traditions of grammar and usage, and she has been hailed by John McPhee as the “verbal diagnostician I would turn to for a first, second, or third opinion on just about anything.”
Now she brings her vast experience and sharpened pencil to help the rest of us in a charming language book as full of life as it is of practical advice.

Between You & Me features Norris’s laugh-out-loud exhortations about exclamation marks and emoticons, comma faults and curse words; her memorable exchanges about usage with writers such as Philip Roth, Ian Frazier, Pauline Kael, and George Saunders; and her loving mediations on the most important tools of the trade.

Readers—and writers—will find in Norris neither a scold nor a softie but a wise new friend in love with language.

Mary Norris has been working at the New Yorker since 1978, mainly on the copy desk. Her warm and funny pieces about style and rhetoric for the New Yorker’s books blog in the past year – about commas, semicolons, umlauts, cursing in print, and her “life in pencils” – are superb, and they really struck a chord; they’ve been widely shared and talked about online. Originally from Cleveland, she now lives in New York. This is her first book.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Sebastian Ritscher

Available View on Rightsdesk


Between You & Me is smart and funny and soulful and effortlessly illuminating.

Quote: Ian Frazier

ANZ: Text ; Chinese (simpl).: Chongqing University Press ; Chinese (compl.): EcoTrend Publications ; Korean: Maumsanchaek

Quote: Client

Mary Norris brings a tough-minded, clear-eyed, fine-tuned wisdom to all the perplexities and traps and terrors of the English sentence.

Quote: Adam Gopnik

An educational, entertaining narrative… Unforgettable anecdotes… Countless laugh-out-loud passages… A funny book for any serious reader.

Review: Kirkus (starred)

A delightful mix of autobiography, New Yorker lore, and good language sense.

Quote: Ben Yagoda

This is as entertaining as grammar can be. Very very. Read it and savor it.

Quote: Garrison Keillor

Mary Norris is the verbal diagnostician I would turn to for a first, second, or third opinion on just about anything. John McPhee

Review: The New Yorker

A delightful discourse on the most common grammar, punctuation, and usage challenges faced by writers of all stripes… Norris writes with wit, sass, and smarts.

Review: Publishers Weekly

Mary Norris is a grammar geek with a streak of mischief, and her book is obscenely fun.

Quote: Marilyn Johnson

There is so much to be learned from Mary Norris's marvelous memoir: she tells us when to hyphenate a compound noun, shows whether to employ the subjunctive, and elucidates the suggestively named copulative verb. But she is no dry guardian of grammar, no punitive Poobah of punctuation. In giving an account of her journey from provincial obscurity to the glamour of New York—and The New Yorker—she offers a warm, tender, and funny coming of age story. (Or possibly it's a 'coming-of-age' story. Mary could tell you.)

Quote: Rebecca Mead

More like this