E.L. Doctorow Eats, Shoots & leaves….

…Not really. But that is the sort of juxtaposition that happens when you read Eats, Shoots & Leaves and follow it up with The Waterworks. You end up reading a ripping good yarn through a grammarian’s lens.

Lynne Truss’s book had been lying on my shelf for the longest time, and finally, a month ago, I got around to reading it; with some trepidation, I must admit. I know my its from my it’s, but I don’t really fancy myself as a grammar person. With good reason, as I was to find out when I ventured into Lynne’s world, a world where full stops, commas, semicolons, colons, hyphens, apostrophes and the like seemed to radiate joy, anger and distress; mostly, the latter; with regards to their use and abuse. Most entertaining, I must confess. Possibly, the best book I have read this year – did you know there are some 7 appropriate uses for the comma? Or was that for the semicolon?

As you may have noticed, I have suddenly developed a fondness for semicolons, which is not two words, by the way.

In the meantime, I had paid a visit to Blossoms & Bookworms – my quarterly homage to second hand bookstores, and picked up a dozen books. E.L. Doctorow’s "The Waterworks", among them. Not an author I have read before, but someone I have heard a fair bit of in the past – one of those literary sorts’ is what I had thought. I am about 2/5ths done with the book, and I must say, literary, I certainly find him. Alongside that, though, eminently readable. Unlike, say, a Salman Rushdie – someone, I have, to this day, never been able to appreciate much (btw, the wife picked up Midnight’s Children – one in the dozen, and chances are, the least likely to be read end-to-end). I had also picked up a collection of short stories by Doctorow and I am much looking forward to that once I am done with this book. I think I will pick up a few more of his works as well, in due course. However, one thing I have noticed about Doctorow is that he uses a surfeit of ellipsis’s (…), which, if not for Madame Lynne, I would have paid scant attention to. And, if I have understood Lynne correctly, his usage isn’t always appropriate either. Tut, Tut, Mr. Doctorow.

In other news, the recession has hit – pretty direct impact, as well. But more on that, some other time. Matters of commerce are out of place in a post about books, no?

Lynne, by the way, rails a fair bit about the predisposition of my generation – or maybe, it’s the one after – to use ellipsis and dashes (not hyphens). Guilty, your honour.

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Posted on December 2, 2008, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Doctorow

    I recommend Ragtime very highly. I also liked The Book of Daniel.

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