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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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