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Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? A Modern Guide to Manners Hardcover – January 3, 2012
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"Is it a breach of good manners to mislead folks just a little if you are going to show them a good time? The question arises after a brisk and happy trot through Henry Alford's new book, WOULD IT KILL YOU TO STOP DOING THAT?..Lively."―The New York Times
"Investigative humorist Henry Alford explores the illusive art of behaving well... Alford is a charming writer, who seems able to spin delightful stuff from whatever straw he happens to stumble across, and his rumination on good behavior is no exception."―Salon.com
"[His] self-deprecating wit recalls earlier generations of gentlemanly humor writers... Alford offers a...nearly always charming account of his own confusion about how to act."―The Boston Review
"Alford is a razory-wicked, fun guy to be around, and each of his stories are like those 'tiny acts of grace' brightening your day."―Kirkus
"Mr. Manners Henry Alford explains how-and why-to behave. WOULD IT KILL YOU TO STOP DOING THAT? amuses as it informs."―The New York Times Book Review
"[Alford] describes life as a cosmic Wikipedia, in which each of us through our actions is redefining and expanding the categories to which we belong. The book alternates between these idiosyncratic digressions and actual commentary on modern manners...consistently fun."―Newsday
"Extremely entertaining....Whatever the ideals may be, most of us can agree decent manners are a good idea. Thanks to this handbook, we stand a better chance of complying."―Bookpage
"Even the best behaved among us would benefit from a close reading of investigative humorist Henry Alford's brilliant primer on gracious living, Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That?"―Vanity Fair
"In today's world of social climbers, inconsiderate shoppers, cell phone yappers and the ever-evolving social media, Alford has taken it upon himself to get to the root of just what good manners really means in 2012. His flair for adding jovial wit to the proceedings offered is evident in every chapter. He has a natural, informative and clever writing talent....All in all, Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? A Modern Guide to Manners provides a reference point from which to learn, a sympathetic voice of reason and an everyday guide for almost any social situation you could possibly imagine."―The Edge
About the Author
Henry Alford is the author of three acclaimed works of investigative humor - How To Live: A Seach for Wisdom from Old People (While They are Still on this Earth); Big Kiss: One Actor's Desperate Attempt to Claw His Way to the Top; and Municipal Bondage: One Man's Anxiety-Producing Adventures in the Big City. He has been a regular contributor to the New York Times and Vanity Fair, and a staff writer at Spy. He has also written for The New Yorker, GQ, New York, Details, Harper's Bazaar, Travel & Leisure, the Village Voice, and Paris Review. He lives in Manhattan.
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Top customer reviews
The challenges? I anticipated some logical sequencing and organization prior to opening the cover of a book on manners or etiquette. However, this is not your Mother's Reference Manual on Etiquette & Manners. This witty book is a random walk on the subject where often times you get lost in the story missing the etiquette punch line altogether. The author lurches from discussions involving the appropriateness of slurping noodles in Tokyo, to accepting all friend requests on Facebook to asking how much rent you pay in Manhattan, to stealing a cab.
A number of recommendations were thoughtful:
* Don't return a phone call with a text. "There's an implicit hierarchy of communication. If you go lower on the hierarchy, people will think there's a subtext."
* Don't overuse the word "thx" in emails especially to a sender that has spent considerable time sending you an email. Take a moment to use the sender's name and spell out Thanks. Tone is often lost in email and it's important that the recipient not misconstrue your intention.
* If someone sends you a gift certificate, why not send that person a photo of what you bought or at minimum tell them what you bought.
* Is it rude if someone refuses to accept your friend request? If you've actually met in the flesh, then yes, it sounds like it is. It's rude, too, in instances where you have not actually met, but have enjoyed a long period of correspondence or phone calls, or have heard about each other for years and years through mutual friends. However, before we become offended, it's important to consider the snubber's FB modus operandi. Some people on FB only friend family or people they are offline friends with; others want to friend every single person they can possible get their cyberpaws on.
A taste of his humor:
* If two people are staying in a hotel room, it is highly hospitable if one or the other of them gets into the habit of sometimes using the bathroom located off the hotel's lobby, particularly for lengthier sit-downs. To do so is to reduced aroma and anxiety, disperse foot traffic, and inject mystery into the relationship.
*(Teaching foreigners how to steal a cab) You've got to be out in the traffic. Out in the traffic but not run over. But you've got to be a little brazen. And the rule for stealing a cab is that you've got to walk at least a block upstream. So people don't see you. (Setting aside that there might be) a harried-looking businesswoman also trying to hail a cab (and you've just jumped the line)
What I did learn was:
1. The author sure likes to hear himself talk.
2. He feels a great need to tell everyone else how to behave.
3. He might be one of the most annoying people to be around and well practiced at being rude himself.
4. Has a writing style that uses a lot of words and long sentences yet remarkably, conveys little information.
I agree with another reviewer in that Mr. Alford's humor is probably funny only to the 1% while chuckling over wine and caviar.
The author writes with a deft and thoughtful pen. Early on, he reflects on the "demise of civility" but also entertains that people are far more mannerly than they were in the Middle Ages. I'd like to think this was true, especially the next time someone honks at me at a red light (turned green) for not moving out of the starting gate fast enough. "Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That" is definitely worth a read.
Most recent customer reviews
The prose is often convoluted and the author's tone waspish and snide.Read more
She had a kind sense of humor , and thoughtfulness I liked
Not like any other book on manners I ever read though.Read more