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Mary Norris, photo by Josef Astor
Mary Norris


NYS Writers Institute, April 9, 2015
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Humanities Building Room 354, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Huxley Auditorium, NYS Museum,
Cultural Education Center, Albany


Mary Norris, celebrated proofreader and copy editor for The New Yorker, and a staff member of that magazine since 1978, will read from her new book, Between You & Me (2015), which combines memoir with hilarious meditations on grammar, on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. in the Huxley Auditorium of the New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center, on Madison Avenue in downtown Albany. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in Humanities 354 on the University at Albany uptown campus. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and Friends of the New York State Library.

Between You and MePROFILE
Mary Norris,
celebrated proofreader, copy editor, and writer at The New Yorker, is an authoritative figure in an endangered profession. On staff at The New Yorker since 1978, and “query proofreader” since 1993, she is the author of the new book, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (2015), which features hilarious meditations on grammar, as well as memorable tussles about usage with such writers as Ian Frazier, Pauline Kael, Philip Roth, and George Saunders. She also treats readers to perceptive discussions of grammatical usage illustrated by examples from Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, the Lord’s Prayer, Moby Dick, and Noah Webster’s Blue-Back Speller, as well as from TV shows such as The Honeymooners and The Simpsons, and contemporary writers such as David Foster Wallace and Gillian Flynn.

Norris also celebrates the unsung role of the copy editor. “One of the things I like about my job,” she writes, “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.”

Garrison Keillor said in advance praise, “This is as entertaining as grammar can be. Very very. Read it and savor it.” New Yorker contributor Adam Gopnik said, “Mary Norris brings a tough-minded, clear-eyed, fine-tuned wisdom to all the perplexities and traps and terrors of the English sentence.” The New Yorker’s Ian Frazier said, “Between You & Me is smart and funny and soulful and effortlessly illuminating.” John McPhee, widely acknowledged as the “dean of literary nonfiction,” said, “Mary Norris is the verbal diagnostician I would turn to for a first, second, or third opinion on just about anything.” Publishers Weekly called the book, “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.”

As a writer, Norris has also contributed to The New Yorker feature, “The Talk of the Town” and to the online magazine, newyorker.com, writing on topics ranging from her cousin Congressman Dennis Kucinich to mud wrestling in Rockaway, Queens.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.