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In 'Talk,' Truss has a lot to say to rude people

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Lynne Truss targeted lousy grammar in her last book, "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." This time around, she goes after the impolite.

In "Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door" (Gotham, $20), she takes aim at the uncouth - you know, the guy who cuts the line at Starbucks or the chatterbox jib-jabbing on her cellphone at the next table or the clerk who refuses to put down the phone and help.

Truss simply thinks the world is an offensive place and hopes that, by pointing it out, we might be a bit better mannered.

"I think it's a funny subject, and I'd written about it quite a bit before," she said in a cellphone interview last week on her way to a reading and book signing in Wellesley (she was in a car, but not driving.) "And I think it's a subject we all spend a lot of time thinking about."

Indeed, Truss has. And she blames all insolence on the iPod.

"The iPod really encourages you inside a shell," she said. "Maybe we all have to be insulated from each other. We don't touch, we don't look. It's logical to feel safe, but we have got to work it out. Clearly, we do have to have contact with each other. But technology is turning us into solitudes."

And why not? People are tough to take. Even Truss has her boiling point.

"I really hate being invisible to people," she said. "I was in a changing room recently and two women on either side of me were talking through me as though I wasn't there. Finally, I worked up the nerve to say `I must be in your way' and they were just appalled. I just get irrationally angry when people look through me."

Truss said that irrationality among people who are offended or being rude can have some dangerous consequences, which is why most people don't say anything and just walk off in a huff.

"There's hardly ever an I'm sorry,' " she said. "More like aWhat's your problem' or (violence). There is a fear that people will be aggressive."

Which is why Truss decided to blow the lid off bad behavior.

"I'm hoping to just diffuse the subject," she said. "I think, in a way I'm hoping readers will be less wound up than they were in the beginning of reading the book. Like punctuation, manners, or bad manners, have people thinking, `Do I have a right to feel this way? Am I the one being unreasonable?' And they're not."

(C) 2005 Boston Herald. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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