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Eats, Shoots & Leaves

284 words on

Lynn Truss’ Eats, Shoots & Leaves seems to be the punctuation book du jour. So much, in fact, that even the quiet Prof. Knuth feels obliged to mention it towards the end of his Art of Computer Programming web page to keep people from wasting his time. I was also pointed to the book as a contemporary guide to English punctuation.

As a book - the hard cover version I found in our library - this is a rather nice work. It comes with a nice opening quote, is cleanly set in a contemporary typeface with nice small pages and plenty of space around them.

Unfortunately that’s where the niceness ends. The author is mainly chatty and concerned with dropping names or creating heaps of cute adjectives rather than focusing on the essential information and illustrative examples or even - sigh! - explanations. Not to be found in this book. Punctuation is mainly for entertainment purposes after all. And thus we read about many things that are sad, bizarre, heroic or pompous. And hiding between them we may find a few actual facts; if we are lucky, that is.

A lot of fluff for very little substance, in short. Not my cup of tea. But probably that should have been clear to me when the author reveals that she’s not just a broadsheet journalist (and the word count over substance theme is the major problem of English broadsheet journalism IMO) but also that she’s been a stickler on the matter of punctuation for a whole three years. OMGLOL! So she’s been aware of punctuation for just a few years and then she’s not even serious about that role. Good one.

October 15, 2007, 0:43

Tagged as book, lynn truss, punctuation.


Comment by wvh: User icon


My parents bought me the Eats, Shoots & Leaves desk calendar thingy for Christmas last year; I didn’t even get through January before recycling it. :\

October 15, 2007, 18:56

Comment by Horst: User icon

I remember having a look at it in a bookshop in London a few years back. The style was so whiny and the book so unfunny that it didn’t take me much time to decide to not buy it.

October 16, 2007, 10:04

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