Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen (Hardcover)
April 2019 Indie Next List
“What a pleasure to again spend a few hours with Mary Norris. The author of Between You & Me is back with a second book, and this time her subject is all things Greek — the language, the people, the mythology, and the culture.Greek to Me recounts Norris’ experiences learning Greek and traveling the country while putting her new skills to the test. As in her first book, Norris is excellent company, spinning tales and charming readers. Blending memoir, history, and travel, all topped off with heaps of wordy nerdiness, Greek to Me is a joy to read.”
— David Enyeart, Common Good Books, St. Paul, MN
The Comma Queen returns with a buoyant book about language, love, and the wine-dark sea.
In her New York Times bestseller Between You & Me, Mary Norris delighted readers with her irreverent tales of pencils and punctuation in The New Yorker’s celebrated copy department. In Greek to Me, she delivers another wise and funny paean to the art of self-expression, this time filtered through her greatest passion: all things Greek.
Greek to Me is a charming account of Norris’s lifelong love affair with words and her solo adventures in the land of olive trees and ouzo. Along the way, Norris explains how the alphabet originated in Greece, makes the case for Athena as a feminist icon, goes searching for the fabled Baths of Aphrodite, and reveals the surprising ways Greek helped form English. Filled with Norris’s memorable encounters with Greek words, Greek gods, Greek wine—and more than a few Greek men—Greek to Me is the Comma Queen’s fresh take on Greece and the exotic yet strangely familiar language that so deeply influences our own.
About the Author
Mary Norris is the author of Greek to Me and the New York Times bestseller Between You & Me, an account of her years in The New Yorker copy department. Originally from Cleveland, she lives in New York.
One of the most satisfying accounts of a great passion that I have ever read.
— Vivian Gornick - New York Times Book Review
Greek to Me [is] an ode to the joy of exercising free reign in one's life…Norris is an uncommonly engaging, witty enthusiast with a nose for delicious details and funny asides that makes you willing to follow her anywhere.
— Heller McAlpin - NPR
A rapturous memoir of falling in love with language…At their best, these pages leave you feeling salt-kissed and freshly tanned, languorous with ouzo.
— Rory Tolan - Washington Post
Charming…Aiming at times for slapstick, Ms. Norris keeps uncovering veins of tragedy.
— A. E. Stallings - Wall Street Journal
Norris’ vibrant prose flies off the page, and the breadth of her material set my head spinning at times. Still, she brings it all together with insight and wisdom.
— Elfrieda Abbe - Minneapolis Star Tribune
An entertaining, erudite, and altogether delightful journey fueled by the love of language.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
What a fantastic book! Not only is Greek to Me educational, entertaining, and gorgeously written, it shows us how intellectual curiosity coupled with a dash of bravery can pave the way for a more meaningful life. Mary Norris does for Greek and Greece what Cheryl Strayed did for hiking. Readers will long to follow in her footsteps.
— Ann Patchett
I fell in love with Mary Norris’s first book, and am now even more in love with this charming, ribald, highly informed, and always funny excursion through the language, culture, and oddities of Greece and the Greek language. An adventure tale for intellectuals—and also for the rest of us.
— Steve Martin
Mary Norris’s love for all things Greek is palpable and infectious. She is a charming, insightful guide through both ancient and modern glories, and I expect her lush descriptions of the Greek countryside to provoke a tourism stampede.
— Madeline Miller
As a reader, I would follow the writer Mary Norris wherever she goes, and I found myself enthralled by this wondrous journey through Greek myths and language and art. Norris brings everything into the glimmering light—most of all the beauty of words.
— David Grann
Poignant, antic, hilarious, Mary Norris is the definition of wearing your learning lightly, and after a lifetime of Greek immersion, pouring beer libations, and skinny-dipping in the waters of Aphrodite, her lessons slip down sweetly. This book is true ambrosia.
— Caroline Fraser
Mary Norris, our master grammarian, proves that knowing the rules sets you free. Here she writes about Greek language, culture, and mythology with an untrammeled grace that’s a delight to read and, almost incidentally, a demonstration of high-level literary skill. Greek to Me is a book to dive into—a page-turning and wonderful achievement.
— Ian Frazier