Eat This

In Bad Comma, Louis Menand takes Lynne Truss (author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves) to task for her peculiar and highly idiosyncratic application of punctuation. The revelation of how wrong Truss is, by itself, is comical (at times), but it’s unfair to say that Menand writes about nothing else; the entire article is insightful, engaging philosophical questions and cultural norms along the way to developing a book review. Worth a read? I’d say so—particularly if you’re thinking of picking up East, Shoots & Leaves at the bookstore (or anywhere else).

By the sound of things, E,S&L might be entertaining, as long as you’re only looking for an outlet for your grammatical irritation (e.g., irritation at signs reading “The Albertson’s” hanging by the mailbox, what signs lead you to mentally ask the Albertson’s what?)

At any rate, I haven’t read E,S&L. I don’t plan to, though it’s always a possibility. If you’re looking for an entertaining and highly educational book on grammar, I can recommend the brilliant Deluxe Transitive Vampire (full title: The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed), which is ably authored by the irrepressable Karen Elizabeth Gordon. E,S&L sounds like it might be hit-and-miss. DTV is all hit and no miss. So there you have it.

(The New Yorker: “Bad Commas” by Louis Menand [June 28, 2004])