Sajitha Jayaprakash's Reviews > Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
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Apr 30, 2008

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Read in October, 2005

What fascinated me was the fact that a book on punctuation was at the top of UK bestseller lists. Also, the title and it’s explanation was equally fascinating. Being a technical writer by profession, I thought this book would be interesting, informative, and educative. I bought it, read it and found it a little interesting, a little informative, and a little educative! Any writer will know that the word punctuation puts you in an alert mode and you try to be careful!


The title "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" refers to a joke about a panda---The panda read an entry in an encyclopedia entry on itself which stated: Panda is a large black and white bear like mammal, native to chine. It eats, shoots, and leaves. So the panda does just that---it goes into a cafe, orders a sandwich, then pulls out a gun, shoots, and leaves. The encyclopedia meant to say that panda is a mammal which eats shoots and leaves. All the problem because of an extra comma.

Lynn Truss’s does not teach the art of punctuation. She just just explains bad punctuation via anecdote, which is probably the reason why the book became so popular. There are no grammar lessons here, just explanations to why they are wrong. Apart from comma, she also talk about the misuse of dots, ellipses (...), semicolon, apostrophe, colon, dash, hyphens, and periods (full stop).

In some places you feel that Truss is trying very hard to be funny. She has been successful in some places and not so successful in the others. On the whole, it is a good read---or rather people who are interested in language might like it. Others may not!
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