'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".
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 ...
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).
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
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!
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