Friday, June 22, 2012

henry alford

Get it on amazon

I'd read Henry Alford before. He's sort of a WASPy version of David Sedaris: he writes extremely funny nonfiction that sneaks up on you with moving insightfulness. (This book, literally about the wisdom of our elders, was especially moving and insightful.) I picked up "Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That," and he had me at the subtitle: "A Modern Guide to Manners." Alford's not talking about manners as things you should do; he sees them as kindness, compassion, putting others at ease. (The fabulous Philip Galanes, who writes the New York Times Social Q's column, shares his approach: kindness above all, from the vantage point of a snappy but sensitive gay guy.) He interviews the fantastic, old-school but very cool Miss Manners and teaches her how to (politely) steal a cab. He's got great recommendations for navigating the world of social media. And he's not above using his own clever snarkiness to teach rude people a lesson. A woman bashes him in the shins with a stroller, and he apologizes. She balks. "I'm saying what you should say," he tells her. Her jaw drops. I can't wait to use that line.

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