Eats, Shoots and Leaves – Lynn Truss (2003)


Subtitle: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.

This was a re-read of a title that I had read back when it was first published (2003), and this was still quite a fun (if rather over-the-top) journey through one person’s (very focused) perspective on grammar and how it’s used today. It also reminded me why it’s good to maintain a semblance of balance in these things, and so although some reviewers may think that she’s way too persnickety, my thought was that Truss was really exaggerating to make a point. (Grammar still counts. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but it counts.)

I have a small collection of photos of mis-written signs that I happen to see around town, and as the collection builds up, I have started to see so many comma splices that I was wondering whether the stylistic rules had changed on the national landscape and I just hadn’t known about it. However, after further digging around, I learned that the rules haven’t changed – it’s just that the majority of sign writers don’t really get comma splices. (Phew. Thought I was getting really old there for a moment.)

Truss has a fun dry sense of humor, and her asides were frequently pretty funny. I did have to remember that there are some grammatical rule differences between the two sides of the Atlantic, and so when I came across something that Truss was saying was correct, and yet wasn’t correct in the U.S. writing world that I inhabit, it was a bit confusing. However, it really all boiled down to just national writing style book differences in the end.

I’m not sure that everyone would be that interested in reading an English  grammarian’s manifesto on careful writing, but as an editor and writer, this was a good read with the addition of a sly humo(u)r. Readers will learn about some basic grammar (plus more esoteric points) and get some funny snarky comments at the same time (which is not a common combination). Grammarians like fun too!

I enjoyed this re-read.


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