—Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls
"This book is not a primer; it’s a prize."
—Robert Hartwell Fiske, author of The Dictionary of Disagreeable English
"A wistful, charming and funny ode to a nearly lost art. Those who remember will cheer. Those who don’t will wonder what fun they missed and whether it will be preserved for future generations. All will agree Florey’s passion is infectious and entertaining."
—June Casagrande, author of Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies
From the Back Cover
A "PEOPLE" PICK FOR WORD LOVERS
"This gem from copyeditor Florey is a bracing ode to grammar."--"People"
In its heyday, sentence diagramming was wildly popular in grammar schools across the country. Kitty Burns Florey learned the method in sixth grade from Sister Bernadette: "It was a bit like art, a bit like mathematics. It was a picture of language. I was hooked."
Now, in "Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog, " an offbeat history that any language lover will adore, Florey explores the sentence-diagramming phenomenon and what diagrams of famous writers' sentences reveal about them.
Along the way, she offers up her own commonsense approach to learning and using good grammar. And she answers some of literature's most pressing questions: Was Mark Twain or James Fenimore Cooper a better grammarian? Can knowing how to diagram a sentence make your life better? And what's Gertrude Stein got to do with any of it?
"A pleasantly discursive and affectionate tribute to an antiquated art."--"The Wall Street Journal"
"You don't have to be over age 50 or a Catholic school graduate to enjoy "Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog . . . "Florey's keen memories of being schooled in this art and her humorous affection for it are contagious . . . Try it, you'll like it."--"Minneapolis Star Tribune"
"Florey writes with verve about the nuns who taught her to render the English language as a mess of slanted lines, explains how diagrams work, and traces the bizarre history of the men who invented this odd pedagogical tool . . . It's a great read."--"Slate "
KITTY BURNS FLOREY, a veteran copyeditor, is the author of nine novels and many short stories and essays. A longtime Brooklyn resident, she now divides her time between central Connecticut and upstate New York with her husband, Ron Savage. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.