Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice

May 16, 2004|By Michael Pakenham

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss. Gotham, 240 pages. $17.50.

From time to joyful time, up pops a fad of such enchanting improbability as to endorse the dubious proposition that spontaneous wit is immortal. Such was, of course, the Pet Rock, an utterly useless outrage that made millions and delighted more. Winnie the Pooh in Latin, a generation ago or more, was snapped up by tens of thousands of readers who remembered barely a word of the dead tongue, if ever indeed they had known one. Now comes this delicious, unpretentious, thoroughly serious and consistently delightful manual on punctuation. It's become a wild best seller in Britain, where the author is an established journalist -- and is now almost mysteriously infesting the list in U.S. publications, including the one you are now reading. Get it. However literate, you will learn a good bit, or if you know it all, have it confirmed.

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