Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


The ratings:
5 stars  excellent
4 stars  very good
3 stars  good
2 stars  fair
1 stars  poor

Blog stats:

Navigate the site:

Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

Advertise: Rates & stats

Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Snicket, Lemony: The Penultimate Peril | Main | O'Connor, Martha: The Bitch Posse »

Truss, Lynne: Talk to the Hand

  

Printer-friendly page! Use print preview to see how this page will appear.

Gotham Books © 2005, 206 pages [amazon]
4 stars

Lynne Truss's little book on the decline of civility in the modern age, the follow-up to her very successful little book (Eats, Shoots & Leaves) on modern man's increasing ignorance of proper punctuation, is, like its predecessor, well-written, somewhat curmudgeonly, and eminently readable. Far from a prescriptionist book on etiquette, Talk to the Hand is rather a lament of modern mores. It is intended primarily for readers of a certain age--readers, as Truss puts it, whose elbow skin is inelastic, because the "outrage reflex" tends to "present itself in most people at just about the same time as their elbow skin starts to give out. ...People with young, flexible elbow skin spend less time defining themselves by things they don't like."

Which brings me to another pleasure to be had from the book, that of disagreeing with Truss when she gets it wrong.Truss divides the subject of incivility into six parts, the "six good reasons to stay home and bolt the door" of her subtitle. These are: (1) the decline in use of courtesy words; (2) the "unacceptable transfer of effort," that is, the growing tendency of businesses in particular to shift labor onto customers (think of automated help systems here or, I'll add, self-service checkouts in grocery stores); (3) the tendency to treat public space as private space; (4) hostile reactions to criticism; (5) disrespect of authority; and finally (6) offenses against society as a whole, such as littering.

As Ms. Truss is English, the book has mostly to do with modern English manners, or the lack thereof. Much of what she has to say will translate reasonably well for Americans, but I was occasionally at a loss to understand her, as for example here: "In a very short time, snobbery based on vocabulary and the milk-first/milk-second issue has virtually disappeared. Honestly, you can say 'serviette' at me all day until you are blue in the face, and I promise I won't even flinch." Milk? Serviettes? Color me mystified.

There are a number of pleasures awaiting readers of Talk to the Hand, among them the perverse joy to be had from getting worked up over one's own manners-related pet peeves. Truss is, besides, a good and often witty writer, and she makes a number of interesting observations in the book. Among these is her point that "our attitude to manners is...self-defined and self-exonerating. Each of us has got it just about right. ...Basically, everyone else has bad manners; we have occasional bad moments. Everyone else is rude; we are sometimes a bit preoccupied." Which brings me to another pleasure to be had from the book, that of disagreeing with Truss when she gets it wrong. She can't stand it when a waiter says "There you go" when putting a dish on the table? How possibly is that a problem?! And she actually told off a grocery store clerk for telling his co-worker a story about a dead woman while ringing people up? ("Stop telling that story, for pity's sake!") Is she nuts?!

By the way, that bit about the definition of good manners being subjective? QED.

Tags: , , , ,

< Tweet it! | Reblog
https://www.book-blog.com/2005/11/talk_to_the_han.html
Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments




Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In


About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






The Sunday Salon.com



Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.