September 24th, 2009

wordy - grammar sex

Reference: The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon

The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.
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Description: A gothic-themed grammar handbook full of wild and fun examples and terrific illustrations.

Why It's Useful:
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire is unlike any other grammar handbook you've met. Gordon has a gothic writing style and a wild and flowery vocabulary, which is very different from the straightforward, matter-of-fact tone you find in a typical grammar book. Gordon's sentences are peopled with vampires, mastodons, debutantes, gargoyles, and trolls, and her characters get up to all sorts of mischief. It's much more interesting than the bland sorts of examples you'll find elsewhere. This book reads almost like a novel, so it makes a great introduction for readers new to grammar.

While this book is a lot of fun, there are a few downsides. I wouldn't recommend this to non-native English speakers unless they were extremely fluent; Gordon's language, writing style, and even jokes might be too much for less fluent English learners, who would be better served by a more traditional handbook.

For native English speakers who are just beginning to voyage out into grammar, the writing style is a great draw--this book might keep your attention where other handbooks could get frustrating. However, while Gordon gives great examples, her explanations, to me, fall a bit short. I would still hang on to that traditional grammar book so you can review anything that wasn't clear. For the same reason, I don't know that I'd ever use this book as a quick reference, simply because it's still going to be easier to find necessary information more quickly in the more usual sorts of grammar books.

Still, though, I want to recommend this book to the comm because Gordon is doing the same sort of thing we try to do here: make grammar more interesting, more fun, easier to learn, and (dare I say it) sexier. It's a fun read--if there's a point of grammar you've never understood, I'd recommend giving this book a try to see if maybe the mastodons can explain it better.

And if you check out The Deluxe Transitive Vampire and enjoy it, then try The New Well-Tempered Sentence, Gordon's foray into punctuation!