Ever walk past a
shop window sign, notice a misplaced apostrophe and feel compelled to confront the owner
about it? Then you have lots in common with Lynne Truss, a former editor and
Englishwoman who writes novels and hilarious punctuation books in her spare time.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves was a runaway best seller in England, and is making up for lost
time in America. (Not a word was changed for the U.S. edition.)
read past Frank McCourt’s charming foreword and the author’s thirty-four-page (!)
introduction, you’ll find a treasure trove of history, examples, proper usage and a
collection of personal stories (I like the Kerry-Anne one best, about a short-lived pen
pal relationship) that will have you laughing out loud as you go.
this book and you’ll learn once and for all the simple rule of its and it’s. And commas,
those bounding “sheepdogs” that keep sentences in order: Where do you put them? Seven
rules apply (no, you don’t have to memorize them) but basically you use one when you want
the reader to pause a beat. Truss also shines fresh light on the semicolon (my personal
favorite), the colon, the dash and the ellipse (…).
My beefs are few.
Sometimes the narrative does get technical and I find my wheels spinning in the mud. But
never fear. Ms. Truss keeps her tow truck idling at all times and will power winch you
out of the ooze within a page or two. Also, I felt her to be a tad reactionary
concerning the use of smilies in emails. Sorry, but I like the smiley and I’m going to
All told, Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a winner. Don’t
listen to radio shock jock Don Imus, who pronounced the book “unreadable.” He should
have stuck with it; he would have liked the Kerry-Anne part, too.