Saturday, October 17, 2009
Books: Miss Manners' Guide To Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, and others, by Judith Martin
It's about weddings.
I'm not getting married. Nobody I know is getting married.
I'm going to buy it anyway. I may very well pre-order.
Miss Manners, aka Judith Martin, is my authority on matters of etiquette. And I love reading her books. Given a choice between a new book from my favorite mystery author, and a new Miss Manners? I'll pick the Miss Manners without a moment's hesitation.
Miss Manners has opinions. She looks at the infinite complexity of etiquette, and pulls all the threads together into a structure that simply cannot be criticized. She acknowledges changes in the world, and necessary changes in behavior, and always makes the right call between the traditional and the new.
The old idea that the divorced should celebrate their second marriages quietly, as if ashamed? Feh; she rejects that. The new idea that wedding guests should provide a gift of a high enough value to "cover their plate"? Feh; she rejects that just as thoroughly. (And, no, she doesn't say 'feh'. That wouldn't be polite. Would it? Hmm.)
She rejects the idea that the rich have a corner on etiquette. And the idea that people of good hearts and good intentions have no need for etiquette. And the idea that American etiquette is in any way inferior to European etiquette. And the idea that etiquette ever requires one to be a doormat. And the idea that all people need to get along is better communication. (Hmmm. On this, I find myself wondering if she's read Douglas Adam's discussion of the babelfish, which agrees with her.) She has opinions, and I rarely disagree with them.
And she's just plain fun to read. The stories. The humor. The sarcasm. How often do you expect to laugh out loud while reading an etiquette book? You will.
I want that new book and I want it now.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons