Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Even though Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (by Lynne Truss) has been around for a while, I avoided reading it, my teeth bared with mild scorn for its British origins. Like my British friend Tony says, "We don't believe in commas." And that missing hyphen in zero tolerance approach . . . jeez!

Despite all my misgivings, I was so tempted to buy the book for a buck, courtesy of Quality Paperback Book Club. I figured, I'm a pro . . . it couldn't hurt to learn as much as possible about the art of punctuation, right?

Wrong. I just read yet another review written by an American appalled with the book's sloppiness and low standards of perfection. An excerpt:

For some reason, the folks at Gotham Books elected not to make any changes for the American edition, a typesetting convenience that makes the book virtually useless for American readers. As Truss herself notes, some conventions of British usage employed in “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” are taboo in the United States—for example, the placement of commas and periods outside quotation marks, “like this”. The book also omits the serial comma, as in “eats, shoots and leaves,” which is acceptable in the United States only in newspapers and commercial magazines. . . . The main rule in grammatical form is to stick to whatever rules you start out with, and the most objectionable thing about Truss’s writing is its inconsistency. Either Truss needed a copy editor or her copy editor needed a copy editor.

A reviewer on Amazon even bothered to upload an image of one of the book's typos (conflicting spellings of e-mail).

Looks like I saved myself a dollar. But, wait! There's an audiobook version! That'll fix everything.


  1. You know, I was sooo tempted to get that book for you as a gift! Sooo glad I didn't. ;-)