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But it has added features all its own, and they are remarkable, cropping up on virtually every page of the book in set-aside boxes.There are discursions on grammar, elucidations on syntax, and one of the most fascinating recurring feature is something called ‘Our Living Language,’ which tracks the shifting vagaries of the way people talk, often making telling points along the way:“Ax, a common nonstandard variant of ask, is often identified as an especially salient feature of African American Vernacular English.We merely lay their names before you – we trust you’ll readily see which side is which: On the one hand, we have Roy Blount, Letitia Baldridge, Jacques Barzun, Annie Dillard, Howard Fast, John Kenneth Galbraith, Robert Hass, Sue Hubbell, Molly Ivins, Alfred Kahn, Justin Kaplan, Garrison Keillor, Jean Kirkpatrick, William Least-Heat Moon, David Leavitt, Lois Lowry, William Manchester, Richard Rhodes, Frank Rich, Arthur Schlesinger, Elaine Showalter, Ted Sorensen, Wendy Wasserstein, Tony Randall, Eudora Welty, A. Anthony Lukas, Wallace Stegner, and the mighty Helen Vendler.And on the other: Sherman Alexie, Margaret Atwood, Rita Dove, Mark Doty, Robin Cook, Pat Conroy, Louise Erdrich, Henry Louis Gates Jr, James Gleick, Stephen Greenblatt, Mark Helprin, Oscar Hijuelos, Douglas Hofstadter, Erica Jong, Tracy Kidder, Jamaica Kincaid, Maxine Hong Kingston, Maxine Kumin, Armistead Maupin, Alice Munro, Mary Oliver, Steven Pinker, Robert Pinsky, E.

Your soul is being fought over, just as your grandmothers averred.

There are angels and demons in the ranks, my dears, and they are fighting over the very essentials of who we say we are.

We won’t name names here at Stevereads; far be it for us to subscribe monickers to the Band of Angels or the Legion of the Damned.

Our book today is the fourth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary, and lest any of you protest that a mere reference work cannot take its place alongside the high (and low) works of literature with which we routinely deal here at Stevereads, pray think again.

Think not only of the awful penalties for second-guessing our wisdom, but of your own famously narrow, parochial reading strictures.

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