The pernicious Comma and other Dodgy Literary Devices.

Reflecting on the many omissions of commas and other matters of punctuation in ‘Almost There,’ I read some more of Anne Tyler’s ripping tale  ‘A spool of blue thread.’  (Note the quotation mark after the full stop.  I have come a long way!)

With so much still to learn, I now seem to read only the punctuations and not the story anymore. I just want to find out how to go about it. The little booklet; My Grammar and I, by Caroline Taggart is most helpful. Actually, I am reading Anne Tyler’s tortuous tale of family upheavals and other disasters, more for the quotation marks than the story. I have enough on my plate just with that.

I mean, what to make of a dangling participle, or modifying clauses? Are my dangling participles showing up as well? As soon I conquer one of those grammarian items another pops up. Give us a break.

Our home

Our home

Here another bit to pore over from, ‘Almost There.’

Those with good memories would know that, thanks to Germaine Greer, the bra was more and more seen as a fashion article of enslavement, a tool to keep them (breasts) propped up, purely for the sake of looks and salivating males. It went further and it was suggested, they were designed together with girdles and make-up, as a ploy to keep women shackled to the kitchen sink and nappy buckets. It was therefore also suggested to ditch the bra and if a droop resulted, be proud and walk tall. Together with ditching the bra, radical lesbianism was embraced.

I never witnessed any bra burning or rampaging lesbians but do remember going to a party held at a professor of philosophy house who insisted all women hang their bras on the front door knob before allowed in. They all did, and it was one of the more memorable parties in Balmain.

I have been credited in Balmain, still even today, of having lifted the ban, not on bras, but on men not being allowed to babysit. The stranglehold of some women on insisting only women would be allowed to babysit was broken when in all innocence I turned up one evening. A nervous mother made a hurried telephone call to the secretary, and after a while, it was decided I could baby sit. The year was 1973. With my Dutch and Helvi’s heritage I never even thought that it was solely the domain of women in our home countries to sit on babies. Anyway, it was different then in Australia. From the early seventies, 1973 to be precise, men were allowed to babysit at each other’s houses. It was a male revolution on par with bra burning. You can thank Gerard for this!

It was odd that some women felt emancipated by going bra-less and yet thought that it was a bit dodgy for male friends to do some babysitting.

It should be written up in our history books or at least on Wikipedia.

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22 Responses to “The pernicious Comma and other Dodgy Literary Devices.”

  1. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Love the painting Gerard. Your home and garden are lovely.
    Now about punctuation etc., Norman Mailer even says we shouldn’t use adverbs anymore. May be could write a whole book using only verbs. it would get where it was going a lot faster.
    Men today do a fine job with their babies. The next generation will probably surpass all the others because of the relationship. I’m not sure about the bra thing.

    Like

  2. Carrie Rubin Says:

    But the real question is, did the babysitting men wear the discarded bras?😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. shoreacres Says:

    This letter, written by the venerable E.B. White, of Strunk and White fame, may ease your concerns somewhat. I find it immensely cheering.

    Back in the 70’s, there was a bumper sticker in Berkeley that said, “Don’t Send an Adverb To Do an Adjective’s Job.” It was nearly as good as “Don’t Let Your Karma Run Over My Dogma.”

    The great delight in the late 60s was getting rid of girdles. I remember those things — one step short of a corset. They were truly terrible things: rubberized, if you can believe that. No lycra in those days. I’m glad those days are gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. gerard oosterman Says:

    Oh, great letter, Linda. And I was so pleased to note that a comma was missing after he wrote an ‘and.’
    There is hope fopr all of us.
    I better be a bad grammarian than a bad writer.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. sedwith Says:

    Writing is hard work. So many damn critics out there without the guts to write. I always thought grammer was a pain in the arse, now it gives me a headache. Love your writing Gerard. It’s honest and it speaks in your voice.
    Kurt Vonnegut’s advice is magic.
    https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/04/03/kurt-vonnegut-on-writing-stories/

    Liked by 1 person

  6. sedwith Says:

    Grammar…whoops. 😨

    Like

  7. nonsmokingladybug Says:

    You have a beautiful home.

    Like

  8. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Good for you with the babysitting Gerard. I can imagine it caused a stir. Wonder if any of the women went home and suggested that their husbands do likewise? –Curt

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oh, they did, Curt, they did. I remember always being curious about what books they had on the shelf. ( and the brand of coffee)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        I am always quick to check out what books people read when I visit as well. They can tell you a lot about the person.
        I suspect a few husbands weren’t particularly happy with you, Gerard. “Gee honey, why don’t you help with changing diapers. Gerard does.” –Curt

        Like

  9. Patti Küche Says:

    Love how you move from commas to bras, your hands really are full!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Master of Something Yet Says:

    I’ve always thought it best to know the rules of grammar and then break them. But the rules themselves are many and varied and sometimes contradictory, much like the English language. You have my sympathies.

    Liked by 1 person

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