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Punctuation guru to give insight into her award-winning book

Nov. 2, 2005

by MARILYN LIM, reporter

"Sticklers unite!" is the rallying cry of Lynne Truss fans and punctuation perfectionists alike.

Truss, British author of the international best seller Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, will speak at the fourth annual Ferguson-Clark Lecture series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Waco Hall.

Her book won book of the year at the 2004 British Book Awards and rose to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.

Baylor Libraries is hosting Truss, whose book has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. Library Advancement Coordinator Mary Goolsby said one reason for the book's popularity is its style.

"British humor is different. It's odd and quirky," Goolsby said. "I found myself chuckling and actually laughing out loud quite a few times while reading the book. It has a lot of cute analogies."

Goolsby encouraged students to attend the event.

"It's not every day you get to hear an award-winning author," Goolsby said. "This lecture will be thought-provoking, but fun. It's an academic subject that's fun to listen to."

Truss will discuss the role punctuation plays in helping people communicate, as well as how communication and punctuation has evolved now because of things like e-mail and text messaging, Goolsby said.

Paris, Texas, senior Mya Patel attended a review of Truss's best seller in October.

"The review definitely sparked my interest in the book. I had heard of the book before but never thought of buying it," she said. "It's a funny book even if you don't care about punctuation."

Anchorage, Alaska, junior Tiffany Ma said she appreciates the book's humor.

"I was going to attend the lecture for extra credit in a class," she said. "I bought the book last week and have to admit that it's pretty good."

The best seller's title is a reference to a punctuation joke about a panda in a café.

According to the book's back cover, the panda eats a sandwich, fires a gun in the air and walks toward the door. When the waiter asks in confusion what the panda thinks he's doing, the panda throws him a badly punctuated book on wildlife which reads, "Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves," instead of "eats shoots and leaves."

"The comma messes up the whole thing," Goolsby said. "It was the extra comma that made the panda violent."

Truss, a writer and journalist, began her career as a literary editor and has worked as a columnist, television critic and radio host.

Before writing Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Truss wrote three novels and numerous radio comedies. The best seller is on sale at the Baylor Bookstore and Truss' new book, Talk to the Hand, goes on sale Tuesday.

Tickets are available at the library and also will be sold at the door. Prices range from $50 for patron tickets, $15 for general admission, $10 for Baylor faculty and staff and $5 for students.

Also, in preparation for the event, the Baylor Chapter of the British Apostrophe Protection Society has been established, Goolsby said. Society T-shirts are on sale at the library for $8.

Proceeds from the lecture will be used to renovate the media center of the fine arts library, Goolsby said.

Baylor alumna Collen Clark established the Ferguson-Clark lecture series endowment in honor of his mother, Carla Sue Ferguson Garrett, Baylor alumna and member of the library's board of advisers.