April 22, 2012

Book: Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:22 am

What a delightful book! The theme is unusual: imaging anyone writing a whole book on punctuation. But if anyone can make the subject fascinating, Lynne can.

Usually, I do not read Forewords for a book as I am not interested so deeply in a book to read analyses of the subject matter by other experts; the treatment in the book is good enough. However, here I would urge anyone who picks up a copy of the book to pay attention to the foreword by Frank McCourt, the author of Angela’s Ashes (Reviewed earlier here).  It is as witty as the book is. And so is the Preface written by Lynn herself. I read the North American version of the book published by Gotham Books; therefore, it may not be the same if you are holding a British edition in your hands.

I love the passion that comes through when you read the book. Being a stickler for punctuation myself, I feel a stirring inside when Lynne beats the war drums with the cry, “Sticklers Unite!” and urges those who love punctuation to rally to its help in these days where it threatens to join the ranks of the Snow Leopard and Vietnamese Turtle in the list of Endangered Species.

The strategy of devoting separate chapters to different punctuation marks increases the cuteness of the book. And the contemporary references (Pop Idol, The Sixth Sense and others) are fantastic!

Even if you are not, like me, a stickler for grammar, you would enjoy the humour inherent in the book. Especially the many examples of the disasters that can result with misplaced punctuations are hilarious.

Like this one: “Leonara walked on her head, a little higher than usual” which should of course be, “Leonara walked on, her head a little higher than usual”

Or, this gem: “pickled herring merchant” which is entirely different from “pickled-herring merchant”.

Some examples are hard to follow but they are very few. In almost all other cases, the style is easy to follow, and the arguments are very convincing. And Lynne uses humour to devastating effect in driving home her point.

Once you read this you emerge inspired, not just for Lynne’s pet cause of saving the punctuation, but also for Lynne’s passion for the language and its proper use.

No wonder it was a runaway best-seller all over the world.

Way to go, Lynne!

I will cheerfully admit to being biased in favour of both the subject matter and the treatment of the book and would give it a 9/10

— Krishna


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