Summary and book reviews of Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

by Lynne Truss

Eats, Shoots and Leaves
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2004, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2006, 240 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

'Who would have thought a book about punctuation could cause such a sensation? Truss serves up a delightful, unabashedly strict and sometimes snobby little book, with cheery Britishisms dotting pages that express a more international righteous indignation.'

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".

Introduction
The Seventh Sense

Either this will ring bells for you, or it won't. A printed banner has appeared on the concourse of a petrol station near to where I live. "Come inside," it says, "for CD's, VIDEO's, DVD's, and BOOK's."

If this satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes causes no little gasp of horror or quickening of the pulse, you should probably put down this book at once. By all means congratulate yourself that you are not a pedant or even a stickler; that you are happily equipped to live in a world of plummeting punctuation standards; but just don't bother to go any further. For any true stickler, you see, the sight of the plural word "Book's" with an apostrophe in it will trigger a ghastly private emotional process similar to the stages of bereavement, though greatly accelerated. First there is shock. Within seconds, shock gives way to disbelief, disbelief to pain, and pain to anger. Finally (and this is where the analogy ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.

The Bookseller

[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 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.

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

Author Blurb 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!

Author Blurb 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.

Author Blurb 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!

Reader Reviews

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 inner ...   Read More

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 across. I rate ...   Read More

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 review." ...   Read More

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.

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Beyond the Book

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 Difference!

Listen to a 10-minute interview with Lynn Truss.

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