Two years ago, Truss was vaulted into unexpected celebrity when, after a long and quiet career as a novelist and critic, she published a short, witty book on punctuation. Initially brought out in London with a hopeful first printing of 15,000 books, "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" went on to sell some three million copies in hardcover.Yeah, I know. I'm going to be the very last kid on my block to get a copy. It's just that I've been busy for the past two years, okay?
The Times article is long but well worth a read because it's full of stuff like this:
Asked if he had any insight into the book's popularity, Andrew Franklin, whose tiny company, Profile Books, published it in Britain, appeared to give the question extended thought. "I have a theory," he finally said. "It's very sophisticated. My theory is that it sold well because lots of people bought it."
Ah. Wouldn't you just love to sell a book to that perspicacious gentleman ?
Speaking of books, Ms. Truss has a new one out:
The title offers its own mini-sermon: "Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door." The book's basic contention is that people in public places no longer bother to treat one another with even a semblance of Old World courtesy or respect. Writing in a tone of comic hyperbole, Truss claims that the "politeness words" - her term for "please," "thank you" and "excuse me" - have dwindled to the point of near extinction.First she complained about punctuation, and now it's manners. Ms. Truss sounds awfully cranky. And isn't "Ms. Truss" is a delicious Dickensian sort of name? I'd love to have her over for tea.
To write a book on manners is to risk presenting yourself as an unattractive person, a sourpuss, a spirit-crusher, a crank at odds with the contemporary world. Truss is aware of this; she knows that her new book is not likely to endear her to a generation of adolescents who consider it the height of fashion to allow their underwear to peek out above the low-slung waistlines of their jeans. "It does, however, have to be admitted that the outrage reflex ('Oh, that's so RUDE!') presents itself in most people at just about the same time as their elbow skin starts to give out," Truss writes with typical informality. "Check your own elbow skin. If it snaps back into position after bending, you probably should not be reading this book."
Okay, I just checked, and this book is definitely going on my reading list. Anyone else?