CRF Blog

Anything Goes

by Bill Hayes

In Anything Goes, the American Scholar reviews The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker.

Cheerful The Sense of Style certainly is, and not only because it’s full of funny and apposite quotations from grammar experts ranging from Groucho Marx to Dave Barry to Boris and Natasha, as well as well-chosen cartoons. Pinker’s style, or maybe I should say tone, is cheerful in itself: brisk without bullying, sensible without pedantry, authoritative without pomposity. You sense what a wonderful teacher he must be: brimming over with information, generous with examples, disarmingly amusing.

Indeed, a recurrent theme of The Sense of Style is that the rigidity and pedantry of many style manuals and of the people who wrote them no longer serve us well, to put it mildly …. [more]