Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy National Punctuation Day

In case you didn't know, September 24 is National Punctuation Day—certainly a blog-worthy day. I must admit that I didn't make comma cookies or semicolon cake today, but I would like to give the day a nod and reprint here my review of one of my own Life Books: Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

From March 20, 2006:

How could I not love an author whose rallying cry is "Sticklers unite!"? For I am a grammar stickler, and Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss just makes me feel so happy! I love this introduction to the chapter "The Seventh Sense":
"Either this will ring bells for you, or it won't. A printed banner has appeared on the concourse of a petrol station near to where I live. 'Come inside,' it says, 'for CD's, VIDEO's, DVD's, and BOOK's.'
"If this satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes causes no little gasp of horror or quickening of the pulse, you should probably put down this book at once. By all means congratulate yourself that you are not a pedant or even a stickler; that you are happily equipped to live in a world of plummeting punctuation standards; but just don't bother to go any further. For any true stickler, you see, the sight of the plural word 'Book's' with an apostrophe in it will trigger a ghastly private emotional process similar to the stages of bereavement, though greatly accelerated."

Obviously, to read a book subtitled "The Zero Approach to Punctuation," one would have to be somewhat of a grammar freak. And although I have tuned it down tremendously in the past couple of decades, the truth is that I used to find it almost impossible NOT to correct one's grammar.I used to get such incredible joy from my editorial days! How I LOVED to make those copy editor's marks.

And grammar classes in high school and college! I can't even express the pure joy in diagramming a sentence. (I am REALLY coming out of the closet now!) The satisfaction in a sentence well-diagrammed must be akin to the feeling a mathematician has at solving a big fat equation. It's all so strange, I know. It's what Lynne Truss calls "The Seventh Sense." She writes, "No one understands us seventh-sense people. They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes we are often aggressively instructed to 'get a life'...Naturally we become timid about making our insights known, in such inhospitable conditions."

I bet Lynne Truss is having a big party today.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up on the important occasion. I can't believe I almost missed it. I need to get a copy of Eat, Shoots and Leaves.

Overeducated Twit said...

Might I recommend Kem's Utterly Merciless Guide to Essay Writing since you enjoy grammar-y and writing goodness?

Audrey said...

Thanks for welcoming me to the Sunday Salon. The Longfellow verse on your banner is one of my favorites.

Did you know that Lynne Truss wrote a version of Eats for children? I gave it to my smart and curious 9-year-old nephew (only an aunt would do that) and loved hearing him laugh while reading a book about commas.