Thursday, April 08, 2004

I'm sensing a comma theme here

In comments somewhere below, Vince Tuss points out that the New York Times has reviewed Lynne Truss' "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." It's a good review — not just because it's positive, but because it gives more reason to enjoy the book than simply "The Brits just fawned over it." It also includes a cute picture of Truss impishly adding an apostrophe to a movie poster.

The review is a fun read (here I am reviewing a review) for such remarks as this:
Ms. Truss has not succeeded solely on the basis of her punctuation acumen (though that is considerable — and by the way, she finds dashes and parentheses annoying). Her mission to "engage in some direct-action argy-bargy" has helped the book, too.
In historical reference comes this fun musing:
She goes all the way back to Aristophanes to identify the comma as a signal for actors' phrasing. When it comes to Shakespeare, she has heard of someone playing Duncan in "Macbeth" and reading the line "Go, get him surgeons" as "Go get him, surgeons!"
But I must point out a disturbing trend in these Truss reviews: more thievery from Bill Walsh.
The cleverness of Ms. Truss (no apostrophe needed) does have its cute side. She mentions the writer who "lapses into a comma (ho ho)" and people "who don't know their apostrophe from their elbow." But the passion and fun of her arguments are wonderfully clear. Here is someone with abiding faith in the idea that "proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking."
There is more in the review to enjoy. It's the first I've read to lift my expectations of the book. I now look forward to its Monday release even more.


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