Those of you who have been around for a while and who pay attention to such things have probably noticed that I’m partial to—probably overly partial to1—the use of em-dashes. I no longer remember for sure how it started but it’s probably something I learned Rich Stevens who had a large influence on my early writing.
I used them in this blog even when—for reasons I still don’t understand—they didn’t render correctly in the RSS feed (despite being fine in the post itself). They’ve always seemed to me to be the perfect way of setting off those interstitial remarks that amplify but aren’t really part of the main flow of my thoughts.
Considering all this, I was delighted to see that Adam O’Fallon Price has posted a lovely paean to the em-dash. Price says that the em-dash is rarely used. That’s news to me, probably because I see so many of them in my own writing. Nevertheless, he says, it’s a beautiful and useful punctuation mark that conveys subtle distinctions in meaning from the comma, colons, and parentheses that it often replaces. He goes on to give several examples of their use and the added precision they bring to the writings of such people as Vladimir Nabokov, Donald Antrim, and Emily Dickinson.
All of this is outside of the usual Irreal purview, of course, but it seemed like a pleasant Sunday interlude, nicely set off by metaphorical em-dashes from our more routine subject matter.
See what I did there?