Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES by Lynne Truss

Rating: 3/5 stars

I have been interested in reading this book for a long time because I love the English language and all its formalities. I am a grammar Nazi--and a punctuation Nazi and spelling Nazi for that matter. So needless to say, this book seemed right up my alley. And it was . . . kind of.

This book was, at times, funny, and I literally laughed out loud at some of her comments and examples. But I also got the feeling that Truss's vigor and violence were not just for show. "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." I, like her, am also a stickler for punctuation, but that's going too far; I simply shake my head at people who punctuate like that instead of wishing for their demise.

Since Eats, Shoots & Leaves was written by a Brit and therefore includes British language rules, there were quite a few differences in how she writes compared to how Americans write, and she discusses those differences in her book, which I found to be helpful. Similarly, she has that dry sense of humor true of most Brits, and I only sometimes connected with it. Some examples and jokes she made were too much for me, and I was left wondering what their appeal was. This is probably the biggest disconnect I had with the book: there came a point where even I was thinking, calm down lady, it's not that big of a deal.

One disagreement I did have with her was in the history of the use of the apostrophe. Her rant about the apostrophe's many tasks is unnecessary, as the apostrophe has one main task that all other tasks fall under: to indicate omission. Even when used to show a possessive in a singular noun (e.g. "the girl's book"), the apostrophe still indicates an omission. Historically (as I learned in my English language classes at university), the suffix -es was added to words to show possession, and nowadays the apostrophe stands in place of the "e" in -es (e.g. "the girles book" became "the girl's book"). Whenever an apostrophe is used in English, it almost always indicates an omission of something.

Overall, this book was a nice refresher of the rules of English punctuation while providing lovely examples of historical use and humor along the way. Somewhere in the chaos of her rants, Truss actually does explain the proper uses of the comma, apostrophe, period, ellipsis, dash, bracket, quotation mark, exclamation point, question mark, hyphen, and even the interrobang. While not a book I would read again, Eats, Shoots & Leaves is still one I would recommend to any over-the-top English language fanatic like myself.
We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we can see dead punctuation. 

No comments:

Post a Comment