14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Very clever, but not as wonderful as some believe,
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This review is from: Eats Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Paperback)
I have huge admiration for Lynne Truss and for what she has accomplished with this book. She has provoked a debate about the written English language which will serve it well, and has stimulated many thousands of people to actually care about what they are writing and how they are writing it.
I expected to love the book, but was surprised by how difficult it was to enjoy.
The problem is not in the meat of the book, the middle section, which is all about the history, evolution and use of popular punctuation. That's the best bit of it and is thoroughly informative and good reading.
The opening chapters are the major issue; Lynne hectors and rants and has a good old moan about how awful everything is. Frankly, it's hard going even if you are a perfect punctuator. For someone who has learned a little grammar the hard way, by picking it up as I go along and by figuring out the rules from well-written examples, I found it all rather oppressive. 15 years ago I was one of those people who didn't know where on earth to put an apostrophe, and it was hard not to feel vaguely insulted and rather embarrassed by the opening section's torrent of scorn and outrage.
If you persevere then you'll be rewarded by the middle sections which are much more fun, more fact-based, and as a result are more educational.
The end, again, slithers back into a rant against modern communication and a gloomy, miserable outlook that we're all doomed, laddy, to use emoticons and thus forsake the elegance of language itself.
Lynne says that this is not a textbook, nor a grammatical guide, and she recommends several other books for people who really want to know more about the hard rules (and soft rules) of written English.
"Eats, Shoots and Leaves..." is not such a book.
It's an entertainment.
It's probably most rewarding for those folk who enjoyed a "proper" education and who can smugly agree with every word Lynne says (probably without having to put those rules into practise very often).
For anyone who has experienced an education in the UK's comprehensive system in the last 25 years, this isn't a particularly helpful or inspiring volume. Try something like the Sunday Times "Wordpower" guide instead; which is full of concise information and which isn't full of judgmental comment.
Must try harder?
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Initial post: 21 Jun 2009 09:23:42 BDT
Hi - Your review was interesting, as you apparently suffered at school for not being good at punctuation. I was clueless in mathematics, so I can sympathise entirely. However, I think Lynn Truss's scorn was not meant to be directed at people who struggled to learn "proper" punctuation, but more at people who blithely assert that punctuation doesn't matter. Incidentally, your review was perfectly presented. If it contained errors in punctuation, I certainly didn't notice them.
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