Monday, February 4, 2019
Consider this engaging profile of Benjamin Dreyer, who rose from unemployed actor and freelance proofreader in 1990's NYC, to copy chief of Random House books and author of the newly released Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. Mr. Dreyer's book represents the culmination of advice and tips gleaned from nearly three decades of professional copy-editing which, as his NYT profile describes it, is a job that involves "an intimate dance between editor and author." For a style guide, Mr. Dreyer's book has garnered some impressively boffo reviews including one from author Jon Meacham who says it "is to contemporary writing what Geoffrey Chaucer’s poetry was to medieval English." (!)
Based on the NYT profile, it's fair to say that Dreyer, among other things, is a stickler when it comes to the technical aspects of writing and punctuation. For instance, he once ended a friendship over a document he was editing because the author insisted that a sentence ending with a reference to the musical “Oklahoma!,” also include a period after the exclamation point.