Monday, August 8, 2011

A summary with multiple tenses is like a prostitute with multiple reproductive organs - unseemly

I want to let you in on a grammar secret. I am way more insecure of my grammar skills than I let on. I managed to do fairly well on grammar tests throughout school but I swear it was dumb luck. Even now I seem to be able to pick out the object of a sentence without being entirely confident I could defend my choice. I like grammar though and I think it is important to know so I try to make an effort to understand it. To keep me educated and entertained I pick up quirky grammar books. So when a co-worker sent me a link to the book The Elements of F*cking Style with a note "You must read this! It was fucking written for you!" I got excited. Grammar AND cursing? How could things go wrong?

It's an interesting idea: explain the rules of grammar using examples that incorporate sex, drugs and cursing. You know, make it accessible to the kids. It's certainly easier to remember grammar rules when the examples are ridiculous. My AIDS test, you'll be happy to know, came back negative is a good way to remember parenthetical comma usage. I liked this. The more ridiculous the sentence the better.

Overall though I was disappointed. Sure they have these crazy examples, but after awhile the examples and the explanations just feels like they're trying to be shocking. When every example is trying to be shocking it starts to feel like, as a fellow reader on Goodreads noted, a couple pretentious teenage boys wrote it. They're snarky and they understand grammar but they also think any mention of bongs or pussy is automatically hilarious. The information may be accurate, but the writing isn't enough to keep me interested.

It's kind of OK there wasn't a lot to keep me interested though because this book is short. I bought it as an ebook so while I knew it was short (only 96 pages) I didn't get a chance to flip through it as I might have with a physical book. If I had I would have noticed that it's actually 1/2 that length. I was 46% of the way through the book (thank you Kindle counter) when I read the following sentence: "Holy shit, you made it to the end of a book about fucking grammar." I read that sentence a couple times before saying, "No I didn't. I made it 46% of the way through a book about fucking grammar."  I literally said this out loud. Boyfriend looked at me with a confused look, and I brought the book over to have him look and make sure I wasn't going crazy. But no, 46% and I'm on the final chapter. I thought the ebook must have some formatting problems. Nope. 46% = end of book. The rest of the book is made up of "Words Your Bound to Fuck Up" and "Glossary of Terms You Don't Understand". Helpful guides, sure, but disappointing.

If you're looking to get a grammar book for someone who will only crack a book open if it contains drugs, sex and cursing, this book is fine. It gets you the grammar rules and will probably keep some people interested in a topic that would otherwise be ignored. However, I'm going to stick with my favorite quirky grammar book, Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies. They both want to make grammar accessible to those who would otherwise never open a grammar book. Grammar Snobs just succeeds where F*cking Style fell down.

Title quote from location 762

Baker, Chris and Jacob Hansen. The Elements of F*cking Style. Thomas Dunn Books; 2011.