A panda walked into a cafe. He ordered a sandwich, ate it, then pulled out a gun and shot the waiter. 'Why?' groaned the injured man. The panda shrugged, tossed him a badly punctuated wildlife manual and walked out. And sure enough, when the waiter consulted the book, he found an explanation. 'Panda,' ran the entry for his assailant. 'Large black and white mammal native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.' We see signs in shops every day for "Banana's" and even "Gateaux's". Competition rules remind us: "The judges decision is final." Now, many punctuation guides already exist explaining the principles of the apostrophe; the comma; the semi-colon. These books do their job but somehow punctuation abuse does not diminish. Why? Because people who can't punctuate don't read those books! Of course they don't! They laugh at books like those! Eats, Shoots and Leaves adopts a more militant approach and attempts to recruit an army of punctuation vigilantes: send letters back with the punctuation corrected. Do not accept sloppy emails. Climb ladders at dead of night with a pot of paint to remove the redundant apostrophe in "Video's sold here".
Every now and then a book comes along, seemingly from out of the blue, and catches the public's interest. For example, last year Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You To Know About and Marley and Me came from nowhere to make huge sales. The year before, one of the breakout surprises was Eats, Shoots and Leaves, which published in the UK in November 2003 with a 15,000 print run, and had sold 500,000 copies by Christmas. It hit the USA market with a bang in 2004 and has not looked back since.
Is this a book for you? That depends on your point of view. Those who find poor grammar frustrating will enjoy the eloquent voice of their new champion; some who want to improve their writing will also benefit; but others will buy Eats, Shoots and Leaves simply to find out what the fuss is all about and many of those will come away disappointed as, however well dressed, this is still a book about grammar, which is a subject of limited appeal to many! (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Who would have thought a book about punctuation could cause such a sensation? Truss serves up delightful, unabashedly strict and sometimes snobby little book, with cheery Britishisms (Lawks-a-mussy!) dotting pages that express a more international righteous indignation.
[This] witty and unforgiving guide is… making punctuation fashionable again.
The Times (UK) - Sarah Vine
Truss is one of life's head girls. She's also jolly good fun, or at least her book is.
Daily Express (UK) - William Hartston
Lovers of good English have thought of ourselves as isolated outposts… Lynne Truss has emerged as our champion.
The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
… a witty, clearheaded, and altogether enchanting book.
Irish Times - Terry Eagleton
A wonderful little treatise… Witty and entertaining as well as informative.
The Times Literary Supplement - E.S. Turner
A witty, knock-about blast against all who flout the laws of punctuation
The Observer (UK) - Nigel Williams
This is more than a witty, elegant and passionate book that should be on every writer's shelf. Well. Done. Lynne!!!!
The Financial Times (UK) - Michael Skapinker
Every company meeting should begin with a reading from [Eats, Shoots & Leaves], followed by a prayer of thanks for its existence.
The Independent (UK) - John Walsh Eats, Shoots & Leaves makes the history of punctuation a subject at once urgent, sexy, and hilarious.
Sunday Times - John Humphrys
Lynne Truss deserves to be piled high with honours.
Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes and Tis
If Lynne Truss were Roman Catholic I'd nominate her for sainthood. As it is, thousands of English teachers from Maine to Maui will be calling down blessings on her merry, learned head for her book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves. It's a book about punctuation, the poor stepchild of mean old grammar. Punctuation, if you don't mind! The book is so spirited, so scholarly, so seductive, English teachers will sweep aside all other topics to get to, you guessed it, punctuation. Parents and children gather by the fire on chilly evenings to read passages on the history of the semi-colon and the much-maligned dash. Make way for the new Cinderella of the English language, Punctuation Herself!
Richard Lederer, author of A Man of My Words and Anguished English
There is a multitude of us riding this planet for whom apostrophe catastrophes, quotation bloatation, mad dashes, and other comma-tose errors squeak like chalk across the blackboard of our sensibilities. At last we who are punctilious about punctuation have a manifesto, and it is titled Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
James Lipton, author of An Exaltation of Larks
At long last, a worthy tribute to punctuation's stepchildren the neglected semicolon, the enigmatic ellipsis and the mad dash. Punc-rock on!
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Kaledrina I HAVE PROOF! I read "Eat, Shoot & Leaves" last year (when I was twelve). I found astounding proof of Lynne Truss's points whilst scanning Internet forums and moving picture posters for grammatical and punctuational errors just waiting to be spat upon by my... Read More
Rated of 5
by Dr Antony Bradbury Text I found this book to be informative and imaginative. Unfortunately, Lynne has made some errors herself. Page 85, she starts a sentence with 'And'. Of course, I was not looking to for the error, or the three others that I stumbled... Read More
Rated of 5
by Pam Rider
To all but those who understand punctuaton, this book is a gem. To the knowledgeable, it has a witty title, which has a hyphen error in the subtitle. Some of us have zero tolerance for those who do not know to hyphenate zero-tolerance... Read More
Rated of 5
by Les Dundon
Eats: shoots and leaves. Excellent! Amusing and informative. I've just read a review which said, "...finishes by lamenting the lack of punctuation in E-mails." But I say, "Read the book to the end before writing your... Read More
Rated of 5
by Anne Jones
As I read this book, I found myself thinking of commas, semicolons and apostrophes as characters, with their own distinct personalities. This is a very witty read.
Rated of 5
by Tim Payne
I take no issue with the book itself: as far as pedants go, Lynne Truss is about as gentle as you can reasonably expect. But what disappoints me is the licence she takes with regards to the title. An Australian slang word for sexual intercourse... Read More
Since the success of Eats, Shoots and Leaves there have been a rash of
other books jumping on the bandwagon, such as Shoots, Leaves and Eats (a
cookbook), Eats, Shites and Leaves (a parody) and Eats, Poops & Leaves
(a book of baby etiquette for new parents)! One of the more recent
releases is Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies, which bills itself as the antidote
to Truss's book.
In addition Eats, Shoots and Leaves has spawned the usual range of
calendars and other promotional items, and in July 2006 a version for children
will be published, Eats Shoots & Leaves : Why, Commas Really Do Make a
Funny and surprising on every page, Is That a Fish in Your Ear? offers readers new insight into the mystery of how we come to know what someone else means - whether we wish to understand Astérix cartoons or a foreign head of state.
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