From the front flap:
Through sloppy usage and low standards on the Internet, in e-mail, and now “txt msgs,” we have made proper punctuation an endangered species. In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Lynne Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. If there are only pedants left who care, then so be it.
This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From George Orwell shunning the semicolon, to New Yorker editor Harold Ross’s epic arguments with James Thurber over commas, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.
This book on punctuation is interesting enough that I read it in two sittings. Throughout the first, I was rather irritated. Having been urged to give reign to my inner stickler, I was then repeatedly confronted with the British practice of putting concluding punctuation outside of quotation marks and found it extremely irksome.
Recovering somewhat, I persevered and particularly found the chapter on the semicolon and colon to be illuminating; I even took notes! I’ve personally used them sparingly and only when sure I was correct, but it turns out there are some other occasions when using a semicolon is appropriate. I also liked the notion that the comma is a “grammatical sheepdog,” herding groups of words together into clusters that make sense.
The book’s also fairly amusing, though Truss’s dire prognosticating does get a bit old after a while. I’m annoyed by errors too, but I personally don’t see a future where internet shorthand will be commonplace in official print. There will always be morons, but there will also (hopefully) be sticklers.