Friday, January 18, 2008

Book of the Week

Remebering yesterday's post about manners I thought this week's book should also be along the same line. Now, I could have gone old school and posted an Emily Post Etiquette guide or perhaps a Miss Manner's tie in, or even something Martha-esque, but I think I shall choose "Talk to the Hand" By Lynne Truss. It isn't a book on etiquette per-say but it does deal with the breakdown of basic manners in today's society, and to be quite honest it really is funny

In Lynne's own words:

" Writing Talk to the Hand was a process of synthesising and organising. I had been banging on about the rudeness of modern life for a couple of years on the radio; I’d also written talks about the burden of choice and the pernicious effect of the internet on the way people think of themselves in relation to “society”. There is a lovely example in one of David Lodge’s novels of a person sitting final exams, carefully pouring his knowledge into his answers, day after day, until he’s poured out the whole lot and the exams are over. I felt something similar about Talk to the Hand. I had so many things I wanted to say, but I had to say each thing in exactly the right place, and not to have any left over. When the process was complete, I felt quite purged. As far as I was concerned, I had laid out the problem to my absolute best ability.
People still tell me I wrote a book on etiquette, which is a bit depressing, but I suppose Talk to the Hand was a bit hard to classify. It didn’t tell people how to behave, in the style of the traditional book on manners; and although it was, unashamedly, a big long moan about modern life, it didn’t have much in common with Grumpy Old Men or Is It Just Me, or Is Everything Shit?, either. I was trying to do something quite new with Talk to the Hand: maybe amateur sociology, in the way that
Eats, Shoots & Leaves was amateur linguistics. Anyway, “forensic polemic” was how someone described my strategy, and I liked this description very much. If you hate something, I think you have a duty to ask why you hate it, and also whether it’s reasonable to hate it; then you have to try to understand why this hateful thing seems to have come into existence. I brought a lot of modern life under the umbrella-category of rudeness – including automated switchboards, customer service, mobile phone abuse, littering, and telling strangers to Eff off. And, as I said, it made me feel ever so much better."

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