Dear Mary Norris,
Right from the beginning, you've got me agonizing about punctuation. Should I have used a colon in my salutation? What about that comma? I'll just admit that commas are my bete noire. Yes, there should be that caret thing over the first e in bete.
Even with all my personal issues, I loved your book. You have replaced Lynne Truss in my affections of that kind. You're wittier than English Teacher X. I feel as if you and I could talk over lunch in a way that I wouldn't be comfortable with Strunk & White.
After finishing Between You & Me, I could feel the essence of it inside me. I was walking carefully, even delicately so that I wouldn't disturb it as it settled. And then. Then I walked into the local Salvation Army store (the back room is full of books) and agghhh! BAG'S FOR SALE! TOY'S 50% off....I could go on, but no. I looked at the BOOK'S and left. What can you say in a situation like that? You can't.
As for your title, right away, I was bathed in a warm, rosy, nostalgic glow. It takes me back to the time someone actually praised me for saying "Gerald and me" instead of "Gerald and I". Gerald was my co-worker, and I was explaining that I didn't know if I had a certain holiday off because "The boss didn't say anything to Gerald and me." This person nearly choked up, he was so grateful. (That should be a semicolon between up and he, right?) If my usage of grammar and punctuation were (unreal conditional!) cooked pasta flung at the wall, there would be a fair number of strands on the floor. Anyway, no one since then has praised me for inflecting pronouns correctly. I serve them up and wait expectantly, but no joy.
Speaking of things not always being quite right, let's talk about page 69. You have an error! I was horrified for you but pleased that I found it. I can't decide if you did it deliberately and the person who finds it gets a plum of a prize. You called Becky in Vanity Fair Becky Thatcher instead of Becky Sharp...or is that Sharpe? I can't remember. I just know that B. Thatcher is Tom Sawyer's girlfriend.
Can I choose my prize? If so, can I have a job at The New Yorker? I always spell "traveller" with two l's, even when spellcheck admonishes me, as it is now.
Here is my favorite part of Between You & Me: When a writer used the term "star fucker" in an article and a reader wrote in to complain not about the vulgarity, but the absence of a hyphen. I was smiling until my cheeks hurt at the thought of receiving correspondence like this on a regular basis. I'm really happy for you.
This is my favorite quote from the chapter about swearing (F*ck This Sh*t):
You cannot legislate language. Prohibition never worked, right? Not for booze and not for sex and not for words. And yet no one wants to be pummeled constantly by four-letter words. If we are going to use them, let's use them right. Profanity ought to be fun. I love the title of this chapter and thought I should spell out those words uncensored -- swag it out! But I like it even better with the blessed euphemism: the asterisks standing in for the vowels are interior punctuation, little fireworks inside the words.
There's so much more, but I must stop somewhere before I resort to emojis.
No wait: Your trip to the Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum in Logan, Ohio. Awwww! I love it! I want to go, too!
I borrowed your book from the library and I hate the thought of having to return it next week. Between You & Me will most likely become part of my permanent collection when I next visit a bookstore. Thank you for writing it and providing grammar and punctuation nerds such as myself a couple of blissful hours of entertainment. If there is a reward for spotting the wrong Becky on page 69, please let me know here.
Sincerely your fan,