New York Times comma quibble sparks a Twitter kerfuffle

Author Ann Patchett dogs the Gray Lady with a lighthearted scolding about punctuation—and provides an object lesson in the curious nature of viral tweets. But is she right?

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

She is not, however, married to her dog.

Patchett was the object of a recent Twitter eruption when she wrote to The New York Times Sunday Book Review to clarify the matter after a reviewer committed some awkward phrasing.

Patchett’s letter not only provided a reminder of the never-ending debate over punctuation, but it also demonstrated the quirky power of the 140-character medium to skyrocket a message into the stratosphere, even for those with small numbers of followers.

In a letter headlined “Puppy Love,” the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novelist wrote to the Gray Lady:

I was grateful to see my book “This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage” mentioned in Paperback Row (Oct. 19). When highlighting a few of the essays in the collection, the review mentions topics ranging from “her stabilizing second marriage to her beloved dog” without benefit of comma, thus giving the impression that Sparky and I are hitched. While my love for my dog is deep, he married a dog named Maggie at Parnassus Books last summer as part of a successful fund-raiser for the Nashville Humane Association. I am married to Karl VanDevender. We are all very happy in our respective unions.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.