Writes, prints and seethes: Queen of grammar in broadside against authors and publishers

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The Independent Culture

Her irritation at bad grammar took Lynne Truss to the top of the literary bestseller lists with Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Now, however, that irritation has turned to anger and disdain over a slew of parodies aimed at capitalising on her success.

In an outspoken attack on the wave of imitators who have spoofed the book's quirky title and cover design, Ms Truss said she did not know how publishers of such imitations "live with themselves".

Widening her criticism to include send-ups such as the recent Barry Trotter and Blarnia novels, she described most literary pastiches as "dreadful". Ms Truss's comments were prompted by a succession of books whose titles trade on the global success of her book, which has sold more than three million copies.

Among the best-known parodies are the straightforward spoof Eats, Shites & Leaves: Crap English and How to Use It, and Doctor Whom, a Doctor Who send-up about poor grammar acting as a catalyst for universal entropy. The latter is subtitled "E.T. Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Parodication", and features a pun on Truss's own name in the guise of Time Lady companion Linnaeus Trout.

Even the Vegetarian Society has clambered on to the bandwagon, with a booklet entitled Eat Shoots and Leaves? More Interesting Cuisine from the Cordon Vert School.

Singling out the latest offender, Doctor Whom, Ms Truss said it "obviously has no merit whatsoever", but conceded that she hadn't read any recent parodies.

Adam Roberts, author of Dr Whom and a professor of literature at London University, said: "I'm impressed at her ability to intuit the dreadfulness of Dr Whom without having read it. It might be that the point of parody is not whether it's original but whether it's funny."


Eat Shoots and Leaves? More Interesting Cuisine from the Cordon Vert School

Authors: Marise Maddison and Sarah Kearns

What it is: Gourmet vegetarian dishes, focusing on salads and stir-fries.

The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left

Author: David Crystal

What it is: Serious-minded, but often humorously written, historical overview of debates about standards in written and spoken English.

Dr Whom: E.T. Shoots and Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Parodication

Author: Adam Roberts

What it is: Spoof science fiction novel with shades of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, by an established novelist and literature professor.

Eats, Shites & Leaves: Crap English and How to Use It

Author: A Parody

What it is: Shameless send-up of Lynne Truss's bestseller, celebrating slang, Spoonerisms and colloquial English in all its ungrammatical glory.