Why are Emily Dickinson and Henry James drawn habitually to dashes? What makes James Baldwin such a fan of commas, which William Carlos Williams tends to ignore? And why do that odd couple, the novelist Virginia Woolf and the short story specialist Andre Dubus II, both embrace semicolons, while E. E. Cummings and Nikki Giovanni forego punctuation entirely? More generally, what effect do such nonverbal marks (or their absence) have on an author’s encompassing vision? The first book on modern literature to compare writers’ punctuation, and to show how fully typographical marks alter our sense of authorial style, Mark My Words offers new ways of reading some of our most important and beloved writers as well as suggesting a fresh perspective on literary style itself.