If you are like me and the grammar gods did not smile kindly upon you, fear not. Your fortune is about to change. In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, author Lynne Truss comes to the rescue with her “zero approach to punctuation.” Billed as a runaway #1 British Bestseller, the book has swept onto American shores and is now ranked in the top five of the New York Times Nonfiction Bestseller List. Truss’s rallying cry “Sticklers Unite” is being heard across the continent.
My own antagonism with punctuation reached a high pitch after sitting in on a critique group with several members in the group who considered themselves to be grammar mavens. After six years, I ended up being thoroughly confused by the small, but greatly feared, comma. When I received a sentence back punctuated “correctly” by each writer, yet each correction totally different from the others, I left–screaming. I had too many voices in my head. I found a friend in mystery writer Lawrence Block, who said he used commas to distinguish where he wanted the reader to breathe. That made some sense to me. Over time, I’ve come to view the punctuation crew more as notes on the music scale. The period takes on the beat and time of the whole note; the comma becomes the quarter note, and so on. Many writers refer to the cadence and rhythm of writing, so I find some sense in the analogy. Whether you love commas or hate’em, you’ll find Eats, Shoots & Leaves an interesting and informative read.