[Ads-l] Quotes: Style is the stuff that you can=?utf-8?Q?=E2=80=99t_?=help doing. Style is the stuff you get wrong. Neil Gaiman? Jerry Garcia

Ben Yagoda byagoda at UDEL.EDU
Tue Dec 10 16:30:31 UTC 2019

I find this interesting for many reasons. Number one, it’s a quote I wish I could have included among the many, many quotes on the subject in my book The Sound on the Page: Style and Voice in Writing. The book came out in 2004, but I was researching it in 2002, just as (Garson shows) Gaiman was first formulating it the quote. Nevertheless, it sounded so familiar that I paged through the book to see if it included an earlier reiteration of similar sentiments. Two came fairly close. One was from novelist Elizabeth McCracken, who said to me in an interview (in 2001!), “A writer’s voice lives in his or her bad habits. That’s the heart of voice. The trick is to make them charming bad habits. You have to leave some of them alone—basically, leave enough in so that, if you’re Grace Paley, readers know it’s Grace Paley.” The second is from Robert Burton, who wrote in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1628), "It is most true, stylus virum arguit, - our style betrays us.”

I have a quite a few copies of the hardcover book on hand (I bought them on remainder), and would be glad to send a signed copy to anyone who mails me a postage-paid mailer, just in time for holiday giving! (The dimensions are 6”-9”-3/4”.) Email me at byagoda at udel.edu <mailto:byagoda at udel.edu> and I’ll send you my mailing address.


> On Dec 10, 2019, at 12:00 AM, ADS-L automatic digest system <LISTSERV at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> wrote:
> Date:    Mon, 9 Dec 2019 09:12:52 -0500
> From:    ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM <mailto:adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>>
> Subject: Quotes: Style is the stuff that you can’t help doing. Style is the stuff you get wrong. Neil Gaiman? Jerry Garcia?
> Both statements in the subject line have been employed by fantasist
> Neil Gaiman who writes short stories, novels, comic books, and
> screenplays. Yet, Gaiman has credited both statements to acclaimed
> guitarist Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead rock band.
> If you are a Gaiman fan or a deadhead (or friend of deadheads) perhaps
> you can help trace these quotations. Here is a link to the QI article
> on the topic which summarizes my current knowledge.
> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2019/12/09/style/ <https://quoteinvestigator.com/2019/12/09/style/>
> Feedback and illuminating citations would be appreciated
> Garson O'Toole

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list