Talk to the Hand Audio CD – Audiobook, Oct 31 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
This isn't a book about good manners, per se. Instead, the British author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves sets out "to mourn... the apparent collapse of civility in all areas of our dealing with strangers; then to locate a tiny flame of hope in the rubble." It's a plea to show some consideration to others, especially in certain areas: (1) "Was That So Hard to Say?" ("thank you"); (2) "Why am I the One Doing This?" (e.g., punching doggedly through the automated switchboard); (3) "My Bubble, My Rules" (forcing others to listen to a private conversation on a mobile phone); (4) "The Universal Eff-Off Reflex" (outrage when antisocial behavior is pointed out); (5) "Booing the Judges" (active disrespect for the umpire, the older person, anyone in authority); and (6) "Someone Else Will Clean It Up" (e.g., rubbish tossed out the car window). Truss expounds on these themes with fine ire, mordant humor and many examples, but it must be said that the result is not so much a book as a heavily padded magazine article. Not that this will bother the many book buyers who will tuck it lovingly into the Christmas stockings of their somewhat discomfited nearest and dearest.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"So lively, so witty, so exhilaratingly splenetic" Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday "Highly perceptive, passionately argued and extremely funny...a brilliantly nailed truth about contemporary life" Sunday Telegraph "Trademark Truss...(very) readable, (very) funny, (very) engaging" Stephen Bayley, Observer" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Just as the Internet is killing grammar and punctuation, TV is killing social graces. We're being taught to be rude, ignorant and insufferable as well as demanding and impatient. Many people toay seem to use Beavis and Butthead as their role models and more will learn from that and similar shows. Given that the average North American watches 22-25 hours of TV a week, and the vast amount of popular programming is dreck, that's not surprising.
Truss doesn't offer us any quick-fix answers; hers is more a gentle screed on our cultural development. And, of course, how bloody awful we are in the way we interact. We all know that we've arrived in some social hell in the proverbial handbasket, but she says it so much better than most of us.
She does suggest that by following a few simple rules of engagement we might lower the annoyance level a bit - use of forgotten terms like please and thank you, a little more social deference instead of the enforced familiarity foisted on us by customer service manuals, and in a very Buddhist sense, taking responsibility for your own actions, rather than leaving your mess for others to clean up.
An important point is that Truss delineates between "posh" manners which are rules of etiquette for their own sake (social graces which are usually intertwined with class structure), and social manners which govern and mitigate the way we interact at the street level.Read more ›
This brief book is nothing less than a treatise on the decline of western civilisation, and as the bibliography demonstrates, it is amazingly well researched. It sets out the types of 'rudeness' that are really forms of attack in the guise of personal freedom, such as a lack of inhibition in public no matter how much others are distressed by it, a lack of civility in customer relations, and the failure any longer to recognize anyone else's right to respect if it conflicts with your own immediate, impulsive need. Good manners may be seen as an outdated inconvenience to some, but they are a mark of how harmoniously a society functions. As Ms. Truss points out, no one any longer wants to be corrected in any way since correction is taken as personal criticism. People no longer understand the concept of shame. If they want to do or say anything, that is all the authority they need to do or say that thing, no matter how rude or inappropriate it is. Pointing out how someone's inconsiderateness is disturbing you can lead to a punch in the face, or worse.
There have been other times in history when people have claimed that the end of civilization is nigh, but I think for sheer degeneracy our current era will be hard to beat. Pendulums have a habit of swinging back, usually farther than anyone likes. It won't surprise me a bit if eventually some draconian authority takes power in the West and ensures that we not only don't chew any more gum but that we conform in ways that will make today's Singapore look like a paradise of liberality. We will only have ourselves to blame.
My advice to all is not just to enjoy the humour but to look at your behavior. The next time that cell phone rings in the middle of a conversation with another, do you a) answer it, b) answer it with an apology, c) dont't answer it and let it ring d) don't answer and let it ring with an apology, e) shut it off or f) shut the damn thing off with an apology? What is even more important is to examine why you have it in your pocket in the first place. What does that say about you and your relationship with OTHERS around you? Are you able to cope with "delayed gratification"?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Truss highlights the loss of punctuation signaling the vast and under-acknowledged problem of illiteracy in "Eats, Shoots, & Leaves." In "Talk," she addresses the collapse of manners and the vast and under-acknowledged problem of social immorality.
In Chapter 3, "My bubble, my rules," Truss goes after the issue of personal space and a person's right to be left alone, unmolested, undisturbed, that is until the arrival of the cell phone! Now, we are forced to listen to another's intimate conversation in restaurants, grocery stores, and even in the john...The tension between public and private space is a growing flashpoint.
Have you ever asked someone to move outside with their cell phone? If not, proceed immediately to Chapter 4, "The Universal Eff-off Reflex," and learn about the lash-back reflex of shocking proportions which your are about to receive for pointing out bad manners.
According to Truss, you can equate good manners not only with virtue in today's environment but also with positive heroism. "Talk" is a good mirror for all of us to look into.
In her previous book, Truss saw the decline of punctuation as indicative of the increasing spread of illiteracy. Here she suggests that the collapse of manners is the tip of what she calls a "social immorality iceberg", i.e., a decreasing competency in building community and using manners as a sign of mutual respect. In fact, there will definitely many who view her definition of what used to be considered basic good manners as elitist. For example, she may be a member of a shrinking populace who bristle when there is the absence of a simple "Thank you," and "You're welcome" when a door is held open. I happen to be in her camp, so I am quite amenable to her observations. Inevitably, there will be the impolite thinkers who demand quantitative data to back up her arguments. However, because so little data is available on long-term trends, Truss doesn't bother with statistics, and instead devotes six short chapters to examples of how behavior that was unthinkable a generation ago has become normal.
The weakness of the book is that she offers no actionable solutions. Her examples are entertaining but beyond hoping that someone will recognize the problem, she doesn't anticipate that things will improve. In fact, it seems like a missed opportunity to lay out a plan for how people really ought to behave in social situations with tangible steps for her readers (or more appropriately, the rude friends of her readers) to follow. Her reason for this omission is that she doesn't want to be held up to such constant scrutiny which seems like an unnecessary concession. Yet, Truss's concern for the morality of our everyday interactions is thorough and affecting, and to her credit, she never tries to simplify the subject given its political and moral dimensions. She celebrates intolerance and does attempt to set out a manifesto toward the end of the book. Just like the basis of the rising Labor movement in her homeland, Truss believes that manners are connected to the common good, and I have to agree that acts of kindness ennoble the world in which we live.