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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't help cheering it on, because it has done such a good job in its humble way, 28 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Eats, Shoots & Leaves For Children: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference (Hardcover)
How does a book about how to use commas and colons properly have lodged itself at No 1 on bestseller lists? Maybe Lynne Truss' books success shows that it is not just a few reactionaries who care. Truss agrees it's selling off the internet and stickler-types probably don't do their shopping on the internet. Lynne Truss wonders if there might be readers whose higher education has given them at least a guilty conscience about what they have not been taught, suddenly thinking that perhaps it does matter and I wouldn't mind knowing this stuff. Those copies stacked in Waterstone's might show that there are plenty of people who want to be, as Lynne Truss puts it, 'virtuous'.

While Truss says that 'despair' gave this book its impetus, she does not sound despairing either in print or in person. The title itself is a joke, about an irate panda who walks into a cafe, orders a sandwich, eats it, draws a gun and fires two shots into the air. The waiter finds the explanation for this erratic behavior in a badly punctuated wildlife manual which the bear leaves behind: Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! tells you the rules, but is also full of jokes and anecdotes. It is a sort of celebration of punctuation. You can't help cheering it on, because it has done such a good job in its humble way. She speaks of the delights of the semi-colon with relish. She has listened to the man from the Apostrophe Protection Society (yes, it exists) but does not sound like a member of any such group. "I was so worried when I wrote the book that people would assume that anyone interested in this subject would be small-minded". --Lynne Truss.

I don't really know where punctuation is going. But this is a very good moment to look at it and see what state it's in. The internet and emails have come along very conveniently for people who didn't learn punctuation and can therefore get by. Punctuation helps give rhythm and a tone of voice to writing, and Truss thinks it no accident that readers of emails often find it difficult to pick up the tone of the person who's written it, with all those dashes. The grace notes get lopped off and it becomes very bald. So people start needing exclamation marks and capital letters, desperately trying to express a tone of voice.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Jun 2009 08:54:15 BDT
jannert says:
Perhaps it sold so well because folks like me keep buying copies for other people as presents. Not, I hasten to add, to distribute among people I know who can't spell or punctuate very well, but to friends and acquaintances who love language and are interested in its usage. It was an amusing book -- which I expected from the title -- but also a useful one. I'm amazed so many other reviewers found it offensive. Sheesh...
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