Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior

Julia Reed reviews Judith Martin’s book in the New York Times Book Review:

The use of tacky note cards is hardly the only subject about which Miss Manners expresses such strong feelings. Wedding reception cash bars, for example, are ”disgusting.” The only excuse for declining an invitation to be a pallbearer is ”a plan to have one’s own funeral in the near future.” One ”never, ever drinks to oneself,” though ”babies being toasted at their christenings are among the few people to know this.” Even the young are not spared. When a 6-year-old reader asks what is important enough to tell his mother when she is talking to company, Miss Manners provides a very short list of examples that includes ”Mommy, the kitchen is full of smoke.”

Though I myself am a transgressor, I find such passionate certitude not only refreshing — and often hilarious — but also extremely comforting. There should be more areas in life where there is so little room for doubt.

More here.