Top critical review
32 people found this helpful
on January 21, 2012
Alford has written for Vanity Fair, The NY Times and The New Yorker. He has written three books and is often heard on NPR. The pros: I loved the writing and his rapier wit. The book is filled with colorful stories, anecdotes, surveys, experiments and interviews. He also offers up some thoughtful recommendations on appropriate manners and etiquette.
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)