"Things That Make Us (Sic)" by Martha Brockenbrough
I peruse style manuals the way some people pore over cookbooks: hungrily, looking to have my senses elevated. My favorite recent example was Bill Walsh's "The Elephants of Style," and to that esteemed company I can now add Martha Brockenbrough's witty and steely "Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World." Brockenbrough is the founder of SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, and in defense of syntax, she defers to no one. The book is filled with her outraged letters to the likes of Rick Moranis (for "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"), the Founding Fathers (for overusing Latin) and the Toronto Maple Leafs ('nuff said). Personally, I think Brockenbrough could go a little easier on folk usages: She is less appalled by the rape in "Deliverance" than by the rapist's description of Ned Beatty's mouth as "real pretty." But, like the best grammarians, she favors clarity over purity, and in her final chapter, she incites open rebellion against "the rules that never were." So go ahead, my brothers and sisters, split those infinitives! End your sentences with prepositions! And if you're feeling really crazy, use "like" as a conjunction! Martha's got your back. -- Louis Bayard
For what it's worth, we were properly horrified by the rape in "Deliverance," but we thought it was funny to focus instead on the perpetrator's grammar instead. If we ever publish a "movie scenes that haunt our nightmares" story, we'll deal with the rape scene then.
We'd be thrilled if you bought the book for your favorite language lover's stocking. Ten percent of our royalties benefit The National Brain Tumor Society, so you're making a great contribution to an important cause.