Author: Dominic Selwood
Published by Corax ISBN: 978-0-9926332-9-5
Review by Steve Hirschhorn
Perhaps James Joyce might have read this little book and saved us all the trouble of reading and rereading the final 50 pages of Ulysses trying to work out what he was expressing! I’m joking of course and yet, those pages do demonstrate not only how brilliant literature can be formulated but also, more prosaically, why punctuation is actually important for the reader’s ease of comprehension.
Dominic Selwood has produced a concise and accessible guide to using punctuation which anyone who writes should read or keep close by to refer to. I place myself firmly in the category of those who write but often have doubts about how to use certain punctuation symbols or which one to use in a given circumstance.
Let me offer an example: I have often been confused about my own use of the honourable ‘dash’. I have used it to create a space in thinking, like a long comma or to separate an idea from other ideas and in so doing, wondered if anyone would notice that I done so and accuse me of misuse! This little book clarifies exactly what I should be doing with a dash, be it an ‘em’ dash (so called because it’s the width of a letter ‘m’) or an ‘en’ dash: — and – respectively.
In terms of content, Dominic manages to cover all of the essential and some less important matters of punctuation in an amusing, light-hearted yet direct way. The text is accompanied by equally diverting illustrations demonstrating a particular point to make it more memorable.
All in all, these 100 plus pages represent a tiny jewel to embellish anyone’s desk. While writing this short piece, I referred several times to ‘Punctuation without Tears’ to see if the author agreed with what I was writing and how I was writing it! In so doing, I also realised that one can become unnecessarily self-conscious about one’s use of those little squiggles!
(Have I used too many exclamation marks there?)