From the Author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves
For hundreds of years, we have had books on manners. The subject preoccupies us. What is acceptable behavior? After how long should you write your thank-you note? What sort of wedding gift is appropriate for the second marriage of a widowed ex-hermit, twelfth in line to the throne, whose fiancée is set to inherit all of Wiltshire south of Devizes?
Talk to the Hand is not a book about manners or etiquette. It is about the rudeness of the modern world, and the sense of outrage that infects us everyday as we discover that other people are - generally speaking - crass, selfish, and inconsiderate. That man just dropped a cigarette packet on the floor. Should you do anything? You say to the shop assistant, "Can you tell me the price of this? There doesn't appear to be a label", and she says, "What do you think I am, psychic!' In her follow-up to Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss asks why rudeness is a universal flashpoint and examines specific sources of affront.
What ever happened to "please" and "thank you"? Why does the customer have to do all the work? Why do people behave in public as if they are in private? What ever happened to the idea of public-spiritedness?
It's a big rant, essentially. But on the plus side, it's quite short and has virtually no hard facts to detain the reader or slow the argument. Potential readers are advised that there is nothing about pandas or punctuation in this book, and that anyone scouring the text for grammatical errors will be considered a bit of a bore. Is that a rude thing to say? As always, it isn't easy to be categorical.