Thursday, 21 April 2011
Read in 2011 - 8: Talk to the Hand
This extraordinary little book (just about 200 pages) by Lynne Truss I found in a "treasure chest" - a friend of mine gave me three boxes full of books that were to be thrown away from a US Army base library here in Germany, for me to play with - i.e. to decide which ones I wanted to keep, sell or throw away.
The subtitle reads "The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everday Life (or six good reasons to stay home and bolt the door)" - and it was that subtitle that made me keep this one along with a pile of others I intend to read and keep. Essentially, it is a rant about precisely that: the utter bloody rudeness of everyday life, but it is spiced with so much humour and at the same time so very, very true that I couldn't help but giggle and nod at the same time while I was reading it.
We all know them - shop clerks who talk to their colleagues while "serving" us without even so much as looking us in the face; parents who let their children run amok in places such as supermarkets, and woe to the person who dare speak up; people who drop their sweets wrappers without any thought for the environment and/or their fellow humans, passengers on the train who have loud and private conversations on their mobile phones, and so on.
Of course, one can choose to be either very annoyed at all this, seething inwardly and longing to the peace and quiet of their own home, or tell them off and risk verbal (and sometimes even physical) abuse from the offender.
Lynne Truss has chosen yet another option: to write a book about it.
She not only describes many a scenario that probably everyone can relate to, she also cites numerous other authors, sociologists, anthropologists and others, some of whom wrote on similar subjects decades ago.
She reaches her own conclusions as to what the reasons for all this rudeness is, but the book is not (nor is it meant to be) a manual on how to deal with it, there are no lists of suggestions on what one could do or say in those situations.
Although from my short description it may sound glum and as if written by a very angry and frustrated person, the author has truly managed to make this a very fun book to read - I recommend it, and will probably try to find her earlier book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves".