Eats, Shoots & Leaves
By Lynne Truss
I must say at the outset of this post, that I am totally and utterly fearful of even attempting to write a review on this book. Lynne Truss goes on a stickler crusade and persecutes all enemies of the English written language. I am determined to not be slain, as it is not my time just yet. As a self proclaimed stickler (grammar Nazi), I’d like to be safe during this crusade. On the losing end….
A panda walks into a café.
He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
“I’m a panda,” he says at the door. “Look it up.”
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
“Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”
On the very first page, one sees the joke about the shooting panda. The meaning of the sentence completely changed with the addition of a single comma. From an animal that eats shoots of bamboo and their leaves, the panda changed into a creature that eats, then shoots, then leaves. One verb and two nouns became a list of three verbs. (A list is one of the times where one is supposed to use a comma.)
From explaining some of the most basic English grammatical rules, Truss also goes on to explain some of the more difficult and certainly more confusing rules. She does so with a great deal of humour and also goes on a rant that leaves one nodding in agreement.
At a school in England, a sign displayed above a door says: “Student’s Entrance”. Truss then pointed out that it must be a very selective school. I found it rather dry and hilarious.
Another thorn in the side of Truss was a movie called “Two weeks notice”. Even though the movie left much to be desired, that was not the issue. Compare “two weeks” to “two weeks'”. Horrible, horrible indeed!
I’d definitely recommend this book to any stickler that just needs his/her views on the written language affirmed. For those of us who have left school a long time ago and have forgotten a few rules, I’d also recommend this book.
If, on the other hand, you really couldn’t care less what your writing is like, I would definitely recommend not boring yourself to death with this book.
Altogether, it is a fun, light read!