Reviewed by Frank R. Shaw, 1320 Twelve
Oaks Circle, NW, Atlanta, GA, 30327, USA
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. Im a panda, he says, at the door. Look it up. The waiter
turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation. Panda.
Largeblack-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China.
Eats, shoots and leaves.
Some of you may be wondering what this book
has to do with our Scottishness since it is not about Scotland. Well, the
book is about her people and all English-speaking people and their ability
or inability to speak the Queens language correctly. Anyway, welcome to
the charming, entertaining, delightful, witty, brilliant, and wacky world
of Lynne Truss, a stickler for the English language, passionate about her
subject, and one who takes no prisoners!
Im sure Mrs. Grimes and Miss White, my two
high school English teachers who adopted me as a special project, deserve
the highest commendations for their long struggle of trying to teach me
grammar. Each would love to read this greatly informative book by a
special lady who at one time or another has been writer, journalist,
television critic, television presenter, novelist, sports columnist, book
reviewer, and literary editor.
Even more so, my teachers would really be
impressed that I read the book! They would scratch theirs heads in wonder
if they knew I enjoyed it and found it interesting, enchanting, and
humorous. Miracles never cease, I can hear them saying, or What on
earth has happened to Frank? After all, those two wonderful ladies would
remember my daily struggles to grasp the correct use of apostrophes,
commas, hyphens, etc., not to mention diagramming a sentence, and the many
hours they worked to impart a semblance of grammar between my ears!
Have you ever been in church when you just knew the minister was talking
directly to you? You and I know better, but the feeling is uncomfortable,
to say the least. Well, when it comes to grammar, I think Truss is talking
directly to me when she writes, You deserve to be struck by lightning,
hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave. Have Mrs. Grimes
and Miss White come back to haunt me in the autumn of my years? After all,
they preached the same message as the author who correctly states that
punctuation marks are the traffic signals of language: they tell us to
slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop.
If you enjoy historical anecdotes as I do, you
will find many from the famous and not so famous. Take Victor Hugo, for
example. When he needed to know how Les Miserables was
selling, he telegraphed his publisher with the simple inquiry, ? Equally
captivating was his publishers reply, ! Then there is George Bernard
Shaw, who is claimed by some Clan Shaw members (who should know better) as
one of their own when there is very strong evidence to the contrary. Shaw
writes to a friend using a colon like a surgical knife: I find fault with
only three things in this story of yours: the beginning, the middle and
Lynne Truss enjoys taking the horse (or us) to the water trough, even
though she cannot make the horse (or us) drink. Yet, she is very adept at
rubbing salt in the horses mouth (and ours). You come away from the book
with a warm chuckle, grateful and thankful that most of us were lucky
enough to have high school teachers who cared the way Mrs. Grimes and Miss
Lynne Truss, a resident of Brighton, has a
best seller in England with over two and a half million copies sold. This
British Book of the Year has been #1 on the best sellers list of TheNew York Times and The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution, and todayhovers in the top
ten of both publications after being published in America in April of this
year. The book will never rival Dan Browns record breaking 8.5 million
copies of The Da VinciCode that have been
sold thus far. Yet, it will do something for us Browns book failed to do
- convince one and all that Truss knows her subject better than Brown
knows his! With due apologies to Mrs. Grimes, Miss White and the author,
this last sentence is not a dangling participle, or a split infinitive I
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