#73 ~ Eats, Shoots & Leaves

May 30, 2008 at 8:31 am | Posted in Books, LIfe | 9 Comments
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Eats, Shoots & Leaves Cover

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

Never before have I read a book about grammar or punctuation that regularly made me laugh out loud until I picked up this book. Although it is about grammar and punctuation it, in a way, reads like a great memoir. I had so much fun reading this book that I’m sad that it’s over. I can’t believe I’m writing this even as I’m writing it. This book makes me glad and somewhat proud that I care about such things at all.

Several things made me laugh out loud. The story of the gentleman who was hanged on a comma was just terrific. I can’t believe that someone actually tried to argue that he didn’t commit treason based upon the comma placement in the law. It was absolutely hilarious. Who could have thought that a punctuation mark might have created a technicality like that? Can you imagine hanging all your hopes on that? Poor, poor fellow. In addition to the stories, I often laughed when Truss later used them in her examples. She told the story of a pen pal she had from Michigan (that caught my attention). She didn’t have a high opinion of this American because of her penmanship and grammar, but looking back as an adult, she has deep remorse for the way she wrote to her. After the story she moved on and I had put the forsaken Michigander out of my mind. At the end of the chapter she used her pen pal in an example that made me laugh out loud and startle my children. How wonderful is that for a book about punctuation?

As much as I loved this book, I am certain that my writing would not live up to Truss’ standards. I don’t know that I ever will necessarily, but I’ve taken a lot out of this book about writing in general. I hope that I will continue to grow in my writing as a result. I am equally glad that there are people who put so much thought and energy into punctuation as I am that I’m not one of them.

To buy this book, click here.


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  1. After reading Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, I got hyper-paranoid about my own writing – is that the right kind of dash? Should I be using a semi-colon instead? – and think I wound up over-correcting my writing and making it worse than it was originally. 🙂

  2. I need to find this book at a library sale or something. Maybe bookmooch. I really would like to read it, but not enough to pay anything significant for it…

  3. Okay, I mooched it!

  4. Fyrefly ~ I worry about that a little bit, too – especially with commas.

    Dev ~ I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all. It’s the kind of book you can read bits and pieces as you have time. I’m glad you were able to mooch it. I’m keeping my copy. I’m sure that I’ll re-read it from time to time.

  5. I’ve seen this book pop up here and there over the years. I think your review finally pushed me to actually read it!

  6. Heather, let me know what you think when you finish it. I hope that you like it as much as I did.

  7. After reading Louis Menand’s review of the book in the New Yorker, I wrote the following:

    There once was a lady named Truss
    Who started a literary fuss;
    Now known as the “Momma”
    Of the overwrought comma,
    My colon she sweetly may buss!

  8. Charles, I love it! Thanks for sharing it!

  9. Don’t feel bad if you’re not up to this book’s standards. Any writing book that can’t get through the sub-title without committing a grammar error isn’t an example that you want to follow. Better books on writing are easy to find.

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