Author: Lynne Truss
Publisher: Viva Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 1861976127
Everyone knows the basics of punctuation, surely? Aren’t we all taught at school how to use full stops, commas and question marks? And yet we see ignorance and indifference everywhere. Its Summer! says a sign that cries out for an apostrophe. ANTIQUE,S, says another, bizarrely. Pansy’s ready, we learn to our considerable interest (Is she?), as we browse among the bedding plants.
In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss dares to say that, with our system of punctuation patently endangered, it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and se them for the wonderful and necessary things they are. If there are only pedants left who care, the so be it. Sticklers unite is her rallying cry. You have nothing to lose but your sense of proportion-and arguably you didn’t have much of that to begin with.
This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset about it. From the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to Sir Roger Casement hanged on a comma; from George Orwell shunning the semicolon to Peter Cook saying Nevile Shute’s three dots made him feel all funny, this book makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.
A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
Why? asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
I’m a panda, he says, at the door. Look it up.
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
Panda. Large black-and white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, Shoots and leaves.
So, punctuation really does mater, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death.
This is the zero tolerance guide.
Introduction-The Seventh Sense
The Tractable Apostrophe
That’ll Do, Comma
Airs and Graces
Cutting a Dash
A Little Used Punctuation Mark
Merely Conventional Sins