Eats, Shoots and Leaves: the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.
Gotham Books/Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 1592400876 $17.50 240 pages
"That imaginative chap Charlemagne (forward-looking Holy Roman Emperor) stirred things up in the 9th century when Alcuin of York came up with a system of positurae at the ends of sentences (including one of the earliest question marks), but to be honest western systems of punctuation were damned unsatisfactory for the next five hundred years until one man--one fabulous Venetian printer--finally wrestled with the issue and pinned it to the mat. That man was Aldus Manutius the Elder (1450-1515) and I will happily admit I hadn't heard of him until about a year ago, but am now absolutely kicking myself that I never volunteered to have his babies." Eats, Shoots & Leaves (The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation) by Lynne Truss
Lynne Truss is a Punctuation Stickler, Her "zero tolerance approach" encourages other sticklers to go out into the punctuationaly-challenged world armed with White-out, sticky apostrophes, markers and the like to change signs and posters and get punctuation correct. She even advocates more drastic measures such as weapons and wishes for natural disasters: "If you still persist in writing, 'Good food at it's best', you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave."
Eats, Shoots and Leaves is not the typical punctuation instruction manual. It is a lively and spirited book filled with humorous, yet entirely appropriate, examples to make her point that good punctuation is extremely necessary; it's not just about sticking to the rules, it's about writing intelligibly. For instance, "a woman, without her man, is nothing" has a completely different meaning than when those same words are punctuated as "a woman: without her, man is nothing." Wow, I said. She's right! Punctuation IS important.
Truss gives easy to understand instructions as to where and when and how to use such wonderful marks as apostrophes, commas, dashes, colons, semicolons, exclamation marks, ellipses, parentheses, brackets, and more. In addition, she gives a brief and fascinating history of the amazingly recent creation and use of punctuation. I had no idea punctuation was so new!
Truss also tickles the funny bone with example after example of punctuation misuse and abuse. Her chapter on the correct use of dashes and ellipses made me quite ashamed of my email habits, as I saw myself in many of her bad examples.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a cheery, enjoyable read about a subject I never expected to find cheerful or enjoyable. I have to give this book five stars, because not only did I come away much wiser--and more vigilant--about punctuation, I was highly entertained during the entire book. Thanks, Lynne, for waking me up and (hopefully) re-educating me about proper punctuation!
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|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2004|
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