Semicolon by Cecilia Watson [6/10]

You might think a book titled “Semicolon: How a Misunderstood Punctuation Mark Can Improve Your Writing, Enrich Your Reading and Even Change Your Life” is too obscure, but I’m always fascinated by how many people I know have opinions on all manner of grammar. The semicolon arouses fandom or rage, it seems to me, and Cecilia Watson energetically and stylishly plunges into that maelstrom of opinions. Riding this secondary punctuation mark’s controversial history from its ancient beginnings, she offers a wonderful set of judgements on its usefulness and usage. I especially enjoyed the chapter where she riffs on the very different semicolon deployments of Raymond Chandler, Irvine Welsh, and Rebecca Solnit. In the end, this concise book is an appeal for scribes to use their imagination: “We will never find THE rules, unshiftable, unchangeable, and incorruptible.” Overall, this is a leftfield intellectual pleasure.

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