I earn my bread as an editor, so this story not only enrages me but makes me ashamed of my profession. Helen DeWitt, one of the finest authors of our day, fought a losing battle for her own style in her own book, even after insisting on a contract that “gave me the last word on spelling, punctuation, grammar, usage and so on.”
It’s not a question of justifying what’s in a text by appealing to precedent; you do what is right for the text.
I say: Look at Frank O’Hara! Look at don marquis! This is America, where there is this idea that playing around with punctuation and usage is part of the vernacular, the AMERICAN way of doing things…
But they wouldn’t listen to her, because they worship the Chicago Manual of Style. Now, I love the Chicago Manual of Style—it’s an extremely useful tool for normalizing text. But—listen up, colleagues—not all text needs to be normalized. Capeesh? Sheesh.