Cover Stories: Modern manners; taking stock of Christianity; Jane Fonda

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The Independent Culture

Polite applause and courteous felicitations, please. Lynne Truss is writing a book about modern manners.

Polite applause and courteous felicitations, please. Lynne Truss is writing a book about modern manners. Her follow-up to Eats, Shoots & Leaves will hit the shops next autumn, and so we can already start compiling the Christmas bestseller lists for 2005. Truss, whose "zero-tolerance approach to punctuation" has sold 1.4 million copies in its UK edition and another million in the US, will be staying with indie publisher Profile Books. It's a vote of confidence in Profile from the firm's star asset and further proof that Andrew Franklin's canny outfit can punch well above its weight. Franklin says: "Now, as with the future of punctuation, we can be optimistic about the future of courtesy."

* Many have cheered Michael Moore, waving copies of Stupid White Men in support as the dishevelled loudmouth challenged Bush and the neocons. But Moore was something of a loose cannon, sometimes playing fast and loose with facts that needed no embroidery. Next week, from I B Tauris, comes a measured but not less urgent account of what's wrong with America - An Angel Directs the Storm: Apocalyptic Religion and American Empire by Michael Northcott, Reader in Christian Ethics at the University if Edinburgh. Northcott delivers an urgent warning that Americans need to take stock of their views on Christianity or risk becoming supporters of a new Roman Empire that leads others to servitude.

* It's been a while now since actress Jane Fonda has made a film at all, and many years since she has made a good one. But, from Barbarella and Klute through such political statements as Coming Home to the poignant rapprochement with her father Henry in On Golden Pond, Fonda's career was always a talking point. Then came all those Workouts and marriage to media mogul Ted Turner... Next year, in My Life So Far, Fonda will share with us her story, bought this week by Ebury Press. Editors who read the sample chapters say that the chapter on her mother, who committed suicide, is brave indeed.

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