Written by Nancy Tinari; copy edited by Karen Barry
Review of “Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk” by Bill Walsh.
Yes, I Could Care Less is a funny book for editors. It’s for editors because, like Bill Walsh, we care about words deeply. We recognize aspects of our own personalities in his self-mockery about his obsessive-compulsive quirkiness and his editorial pet peeves. It’s a book for editors rather than a general audience because Walsh, a copy editor at The Washington Post since 1997, tackles some of the most difficult copy-editing conundrums that often stymie editors. Topics include subject-verb agreement “follies” with expressions like “a lot” and “one of those people,” restrictive/non-restrictive clauses with their tricky use of commas and the which/that choice, how to handle trademarks, difficult decisions about hyphenation, and the pitfalls of typesetting technology.
Yes, I Could Care Less reveals what a subjective task editing can be. There are rules, style books, and house style guides, but there are many issues upon which even expert copy editors will not agree. The book opened my eyes about the potential for creativity and what Walsh calls “tiny acts of elegance” in editing work.