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The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed Hardcover – Illustrated, August 10, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0679418603 ISBN-10: 0679418601 Edition: Revised

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The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed + The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed + The Disheveled Dictionary: A Curious Caper Through Our Sumptuous Lexicon
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; Revised edition (August 10, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679418601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679418603
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Karen Elizabeth Gordon is no ordinary grammarian, and her works (including The New Well-Tempered Sentence, Torn Wings and Faux Pas, and The Disheveled Dictionary)--are no ordinary books of grammar. A special edition of the 1984 classic, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire is populated by a wickedly decadent cast of gargoyles, mastodons, murderous debutantes, and, yes, vampires (both transitive and otherwise), who cavort and consort in order to illustrate basic principles of grammar. The sentences are intoxicating--"How he loved to dangle his participles, brush his forelock off his forehead with his foreleg, and gaze into the aqueous depths"--but the rules and their explanations are as sound as any you might find in Strunk and White. Outlining the building blocks of the English language, from parts of speech to phrases and clauses, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire goes on to exorcise such grammatical demons as passive voice, fragments, comma splices, and run-on sentences. At last, a handbook of grammar you will actually want to read. In the words of Gordon's preface, "Howling, exploding, crackling, flickering with new life-forms, and drunk on fresh blood (some of mine is certainly missing), this deluxe edition reminds us on every page that words, too, have hoofs and wings to transport us far and deep."

From the Inside Flap

Playful and practical, this is the style book you can't wait to use, a guide that addresses classic questions of English usage with wit and the blackest of humor. Black-and-white illustrations throughout.

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Customer Reviews

This is absolutely the most fun I've had reading a grammar primer.
Craig Clarke
I really can't say I understood a thing until I read this book. lol Could be the reason I always get crushes on English Professors.
Rebecca of Amazon
I would recommend this book more as a review than as a beginner's book.
Jeffrey Leeper

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Craig Clarke VINE VOICE on October 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In an essay from her collection Mama Makes Up Her Mind, Bailey White describes how she learned to get children to read. Teach them that they can find out really nasty, tragic things from books. Because despite what adults would like to believe, kids love that stuff. How else to explain the publishing phenomena of Goosebumps and Lemony Snicket.
Karen Gordon seems to be using a similar tactic on the teaching of sentence structure with her book, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed. (Now, that's a title.)
In her introduction, Gordon states that she knows what "a dangerous game I'm playing" by illustrating the rules of grammar via "a menage of revolving lunatics kidnapped into this book." However, she persuades that by following their stories, we will "be beguiled into compliance with the rules, however confounding those rules may appear to be." She's right. This is absolutely the most fun I've had reading a grammar primer. The rules are written simply enough; this book's charm lies in its illustrative sentences--wonderful, gothic examples of subject and predicate, adjective and adverb, dependent and independent clauses. Sentences giving examples of a subject include:
The persona non grata was rebuked.
His huge, calm, intelligent hands wrestled with her confusion of lace.
She goes on to give examples of nouns: Person (eavesdropper, ruffian, Peter Lorre), Place (Aix-en-Provence, Omsk, Mars), and Thing (marzipan, scum, haunch); as well participles and gerunds. This is a thorough look at all the rules necessary for proper communication. The examples make for curious reading, and when the sentences are captioning the numerous classical paintings and woodcuts scattered throughout, often provoke a laugh.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Brian Tung on March 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
You don't get Karen Elizabeth Gordon's language books for a complete reference on the English language; there are far more comprehensive guides than these. No, you get them because you're allured, nay, *seduced* by her prose, and because she has a flair for leading you on, then looking innocently on as you stumble over your own wicked thoughts.
Gordon published her original *Transitive Vampire* in 1984, and it was a delight to read then. The newer edition, published in 1993, has only gotten better. There are more lurid examples and, of course, more of those pictures.
This isn't to say that the book is devoid of useful grammar instruction. While copy editors are unlikely to find a use for this book, almost everyone else will find something here that they weren't aware of before, whether it's the rule on number agreement or the cases of pronouns.
But the real value of Gordon's book is that it makes us actually want to read through it, and the grammar lessons seep into our ears almost by the way. Other grammar books are reference sources; this one reads more like a good novel, and is practically as hard to put down.
Gordon's cast of characters include a dour but charming gargoyle named Jean-Pierre, the lovely Alyosha, assorted bats and demons, and even the Statue of Liberty. This gothic motley trundles through the book, whispering sweet nothings about verb tenses. At times, Gordon plays the vamp: "The debutante rocks on her haunches and sucks her thumb."
That alone ought to send some to their dictionaries, eagerly looking up what haunches are, and why a scantily clad debutante might be rocking on them.
This book is a must for gothic logophiles--and anyone who isn't, might consider playing the part, if only for a night, just to read it.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My grammar stinks, so I've read a few grammar books to help me out. Most of them are okay-- they've taught me a thing or two about punctuation, syntax, and so on--but the grammar book that stand outs the most is The Deluxe Transitive Vampire. What makes it exceptionally informative and even fun to read is that the author does not attempt to teach you the rules of grammar with boring and windy explanations. Instead, she teaches them with numerous examples of grammatically correct sentences to tell you how they should be written and grammatically incorrect sentences to tell you how they should not be written. This is the most effective approach to teaching grammar. Students will quickly and effortlessly acquire a deeper understanding of grammar.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By lanny@tecinfo.com on February 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
At age 54, starting to write for the first time, it seemed only natural to scour the shelves of my local purveyor of books for helpful references. Both the cover and the title of this book fairly leapt into my visual field, making it impossible to leave the vampire--or his debutante--on the shelf. Not only did it clearly answer my rather pedestrian questions about the various parts of speech, etc., it did so with gusto, elan, humor, and very clever self-defining plays on words. More importantly, Ms. Gordon's characters brought home to me WHY these various grammatical entities were essential, showing me ways to convey intent, innuendo, shadings of meaning, and so forth that have been immensely helpful.
I recommend this book to writers, writers-manque, lovers of both the English language as well as linguistics in general. Not to be missed.
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