Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stylized by Mark Garvey

Stylized by Mark Garvey

If you’re the particular type of Word Nerd who is into Strunk and White, then you’d love this book. It fits on a shelf where it can rub elbows with Annie Fadiman’s Ex Libris, and Winchester’s TheProfessor and the Madman; for this is the detailed history of the creation of The Elements of Style.

Mr. Garvey’s love for the source material shines through, and his admiration for E.B. White (author of Charlotte’s Web and about a million New Yorker articles) is clear. He peppers the history of the book with interesting biographical snippets on White and his former professor and friend, William Strunk. Along the way, we get a variety of opinions on The Elements from various famous  (and not so famous) writers, like Frank McCord and Elmore Leonard.

Weighing in at only 200 pages, Stylized is still twice as long as the work that inspired it, but Garvey keeps it airy and fresh. I don’t know if his reverence for these two dead masters of modern style and language usage will win many new converts to their efforts, but if you already count yourself among their devotees, and the history of reference books is of interest to you then you’ll likely be delighted. 

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