Eats, Shoots, and Leaves
Reviewed by: James Hollenbeck
Review posted: 7/16/04
I am a stickler. No, I don't correct every spelling, grammar, and
punctuation mistake I see, but I do sit there and grit my teeth. I am
not trying to be elitist, it is just that some people's complete
inability to communicate in writing is very depressing. Being
somewhat of a stickler, I was very intrigued when I first heard of the book
"Eats, Shoots, and Leaves".
"Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" by Lynne Truss is a book about punctuation. No, it is not a textbook. It is actually a very informative and enjoyable book despite covering what most people would think of as a dry topic. It is a quick read, but can leave you thinking for hours afterwards.
The book itself gives what I think is the best indicator of who will like it. Lynne Truss gives an example of poor punctuation. "Come inside for CD's, VIDEO's, DVD's, and BOOK's." She goes on to say that if this does not bother you, you should put the book down and go on with your life. If it does bother you then you can continue reading and enjoy
brief yet useful chapters about the comma, the quote, exclamation points, dashes, and more.
Each chapter covers a separate mark or group of marks, providing a brief history of most of them, and a simple explanation of their usage. The history and the explanation do something very important that the average textbook does not do. Unlike textbooks, they provide the "why" of punctuation. Lynne Truss also does something else that textbook
authors don't usually do. She acknowledges that language is fluid, and often points out ways that the usage has changed. By showing the fundamental purpose of punctuation while also acknowledging it can change, Lynne Truss presents a common sense approach to punctuation.
This information may not be new to English majors, but it was definitely appreciated by this Computer Science major. This approach should be appreciated by any stickler that may like proper punctuation, but never wanted to or had a chance to study it in depth. Besides
this information, "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" offers a little of every stickler's favorite entertainment: examples of bad punctuation. There is a little sample of everything, from "CD's" to; semi-colons in; odd places to questions that are not questions? These samples are sparse, but still add entertainment value to the book.
"Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" is a great book for people that appreciate good writing. Anybody that hasn't studied writing can learn a lot from this book. Any stickler can get a laugh out of it. Anybody that doesn't mind putting an apostrophe in a plural word had better avoid it.