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· Punctuated Equilibrium: Louis Menand Takes On Lynne Truss ·

Louis Menand's New Yorker review of Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation caught my eye recently — or rather, to be more exact, caught my stylish ear.

How exactly? Well, with a New York bang in that Bad Comma (6/28/04), like Menand's The End Note: The Nightmare of Citation (10/6/03), counterpoints a pair of classically-related compositional matters. They are, to be precise, vexed matters of common orthographical space (punctuation/citation rules) and verbal-logical time (personal/tonal rhythms). Generally, they are matters of eye and ear.

You may recall I tried to note them in Blue-End Note: Louis Menand Sings "Chicago Blues" — where I alluded to the late great Ray Charles (whose happy caricature graces the New Yorker's recent cover). In any case, as I start for some needed "Stylechoice" talk in Minnesota, I thought to adduce Menand's lead and to leave such matters for your critical analysis. Do maybe enjoy the challenge while I'm gone.
 · Eats, Shoots & Leaves ·

The first punctuation mistake in "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" [Menand begins] (Gotham; $17.50), by Lynne Truss, a British writer, appears in the dedication, where a nonrestrictive clause is not preceded by a comma. It is a wild ride downhill from there. "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" presents itself as a call to arms, in a world spinning rapidly into subliteracy, by a hip yet unapologetic curmudgeon, a stickler for the rules of writing. But it's hard to fend off the suspicion that the whole thing might be a hoax.*

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"Punctuated Equilibrium," indeed! Quite a pun, Styles!

Posted by loretta markle on August 22, 2004 04:24 PM

Indeed, almost like The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light — a text I may soon examine at YGS, though not today, alas!

Posted by
Styles on August 22, 2004 11:39 PM

Well, I see that you ARE back, Styles, even if you haven't done a full-blown post. Joanna and Cindy and I have been having quite a cross-blogging discussion on CC's and universties the past several days. Check it out and join in if you can.

Posted by John on September 5, 2004 06:46 PM


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