Saturday, July 29, 2006

Book 61: Talk to the Hand

NUMBER: 61
TITLE: Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door
AUTHOR: Lynn Truss
STARTED: July 26, 2006
FINISHED: July 28, 2006
PAGES: 206
GENRE: Non-Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: If you want a short-cut to an alien culture these days, there is no quicker route than ot look at a French phrase book.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] "Talk to the hand, 'cause the face ain't listening," the saying goes. When did the world stop wanting to hear? When did society stop valuing basic courtesy and respect? It's a topic that has been simmering for years, and Lynne Truss says it's now reached the boiling point. Taking on the boorish behavior that for some has become a point of pride, Talk to the Hand is a rallying cry for civility.

When did "please" and "thank you" become passé? When you call a "customer service" number, why does the burden of deciphering the automatic switchboard fall to you (and where are the real people, when you, the customer, need service)? Why do people behave as if public spaces are their own chip-strewn living rooms? Perhaps most importantly, how has it come to be that we are not allowed to object? Call someone out on rude or disrespectful behavior and you're likely to get an "Eff off" or worse. In a recent U.S. survey, 79 percent of adults said that lack of courtesy was a serious problem. For all of those fed up with anti-social behavior and suffering in silence, realize that you are the majority! Talk to the Hand is a colorful call to arms-from the wittiest defender of the civilized world.

REASON FOR READING: I was in the mood.

THOUGHTS: Following the success of her first work, the popular Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, Truss continues the witty language and poignent insights that made her famous. The tone of this book is just as pointed and accusatory, without mean-hearted, but it still seems to lack the quizzical nature of her first work. Instead of being fun, this book almost comes across as grumpy. Truss may make a valid point about the lack of respect in modern society, but instead of trying to fix the problem, she makes it worse.

Her book is more than valid in making its six points. We are a ruder culture, we do tend to be selfish, we are less considerate, and we do expect others to eff off. All of this may be true, but, at heart, most people are still generous and willing to change, if only someone would point out their faults while admitting their own. I believe that is the main weakness of Truss' book. Instead of admiting that she too is not perfect, she makes it seem like everyone else, save a galant few, are rude curmudgeons who are only looking out for me, myself, and I. In taking this standoffish position, she comes across as just as rude and aloof as the people she is meaning to correct.

Here book does not completely fall apart because of this, but it does make reading it harder. The writing is still hilarious, and the examples are right on. But the lack substance because of Truss' method. It's one thing to say "You're rude - and here's why." It's another to say "You're rude - so eff off!" In Talk to the Hand, Truss ignores the very things she writes about hating, making her book more comical than logical.

MISCELLANEOUS: Nobody likes a rude rodent.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Keep
RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
RN: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

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