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Review: Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynne Truss

This book is more than just a bunch of punctuation rules strung together, or a manual on English grammar: its a book made for the people who are sticklers to the (proper) rules of punctuation. Many of the things Lynne Truss said in this book ring true for me, though it made me pay attention to marks of punctuation that normally I would just let go. I realized that I am NOT the only crazy, punctuation-obsessed person on the planet. She might not be the best writer I've ever read, but she makes her subject interesting in the way that very few people can, by being sarcastic and humorous.

Some quotes: "They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes we are often aggressively instructed to 'get a life' but people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves" (p.4)

"Punctuation has been defined in many ways. Some grammarians use the analogy of stitching: punctuation as the basting that holds the fabric of language in shape" (7).

"Stand outside a Leicester Square cinema indicating-with a cut-out apostrophe on a stick-how the title Two Weeks Notice might be easily grammatically corrected (I did this), and not a soul will take your side or indeed have a clue what your problem is" (19).

"So what I propose is action. Sticklers unite, you have nothing to lose but your sense of proportion, and arguably you didn't have a lot of that to begin with. Maybe we won't change the world, but at least we'll fee better" (28).

"In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semi-colon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets over-excited and breaks things and laughs too loudly" (137-8).

Also reviewed by: Book Nut


Anonymous said…
I so enjoyed reading this book. When will I ever again say that about a book about grammar? My guess is never, unless Truss publishes another - which I will pick up in a heart beat! Thanks for those quotes. They were all great.
Heather J. said…
I gave this book to my dad as a gift years ago ... I'll have to ask him to dig it out so I can read it!
Andi said…
I've wanted to read this one for a while, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I had a chance to meet the author at a mixer at Baylor U a few years ago, but I can't remember now why it fell through. Ahhh, well.
Literary Feline said…
This really was a fun book to read. Thank you for reminding me of how delightful it was by sharing the quotes!
Stephanie said…
My grammar is pretty bad, so this book would probably be helpful. Thanks for the information.
Anonymous said…
I have to confess that as much as I love grammar and usage guides, I've been avoiding this one. I'll have to consider it again.

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