Friday, March 3

Ate, Shot and Left

What Cheney did. Remove the comma and you get Whittington's response. Ain't commas grand?

In response to my grumble about illiteracy, Melinda asked if I had read Eat Shoots and Leaves, by Lynne Truss. The answer is not yet. I am hampered in reading it because I own it. Weird? Well, I am not alone with this problem. I saw Gayle Richardson, librarian extraordinaire, at a party shortly after her retirement. When I thanked her for a long ago recommendation for Handling Sin, by Michael Malone, I also commented that I didn't think any of his other books were nearly as good. She replied that while she owned a couple other Malone books, she hadn't read any yet. Perhaps, following the example of a recently retired friend, she should vow to read a book a month that she owns. Another woman in the conversation misunderstood and was shocked, how can you vow to read just one book a month? But I got it. Between borrowed books from friends and the library, there's always something to read that has an expiration date. So books on the shelves tend to wait their turn a long time.

I used to work in a bookstore and a savvy customer asked for this book before the American edition was released and nobody on this continent knew about Truss. One of my favorite tasks at that job was doing the research for this sort of obscure request. As soon as I figured out what she was asking for, I placed an order for myself as well. When it was released and I brought my copy home, my then ten year old son immediately absconded with it and read it. I have browsed through it and enjoyed its curmudgeonly flavor. Perhaps, someday I will read it and finally learn when to use a semicolon. Until then I have Zach to pick at my grammar and punctuation (a task he relishes).

What I do not intend to purchase or borrow is Lynne's next book, a rant on manners. The subtitle for Talk to the Hand is The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. Ouch, she doesn't go that far with punctuation even. Does she say that since people can't write, one should stop reading? No. Is the bolt the door advice hyperbole? Evidently not. The New York Times did a scathingly funny interview with Ms Truss after the manners book was out and it turns out that Lynne has absolutely no manners and no friends and she is happy with that thank-you-very-much. It's really worth a read, especially for those who liked Eats, Shoots and Leaves. NYT charges for its archives, but Seattle residents can use our Public Library's subscription to Proquest to get a PDF of the article for free. The article is Lynne Truss Has Another Gripe With You, by Deborah Solomon, NYT Sunday Magazine, Nov 20th, 2005.

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