Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog
The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences
By Kitty Burns Florey
(Melville House, Hardcover, 9781933633107, 200pp.)
Publication Date: October 1, 2006
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Once wildly popular in grammar schools across the country, sentence diagramming has fallen out of fashion. But are we that much worse for not knowing the word-mapping method?
Now, in this illustrated personal history that any language lover will adore, Kitty Burns Florey explores the rise and fall of sentence diagramming, including its invention by a mustachioed man named Brainerd “Brainy” Kellogg and his wealthy accomplice Alonzo Reed ... the inferior “balloon diagram” predecessor ... and what diagrams of sentences by Hemingway, Welty, Proust, Kerouac and other famous writers reveal about them.
Florey also offers up her own common-sense 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? What are the silliest grammar rules? And what’s Gertude Stein got to do with any of it?
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.
"Kitty Burns Florey seems to write from a great wellspring of inner calm that derives from a gleeful appreciation of life’s smallest details."
—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