by Anne Stilman
F+W Media (e-book)
To set her book apart from the many others that purport to help writers improve their grammar Anne Stilman includes the writings of famous authors. To illustrate the importance of the exclamation point, she cites the shortest correspondence in history: in 1862, the day following the release of Les Miserables, Victor Hugo sent a telegram to his publisher that read '?' The reply to the enquiry about sales was '!' - the first print run had sold out. Such anecdotes help readers through a book that could otherwise be academic and dull. Authors from Erica Jong to J.R.R. Tolkien are cited in chapters that cover everything from when to use which and when, that; when to apply the semicolon as opposed to the colon; and where to insert quotation marks. Stilman's objective is to explain style conventions and rules without using intimidating terminology. Breaking these rules, she explains, could result in uncertainty or misinterpretation, although language evolves. She introduces frequently misused and mispelled words, inviting readers to test their knowledge.