Sunday, July 21, 2024

Good Manners Matter: Judith Martin and Letitia Baldrige Have a Successor


My old friend Norah Lawlor writes in a new book: “Why do manner matter? … In an era where a message placed online can be transmitted world-wide and where modern cities are cultural melting pots comprised of people from many different nationalities, all with their own customs, the opportunity for making social errors is multiplied many fold…Good individual etiquette has a role at the larger level of society—if we were to all practice good manners, would not the world simply be a nicer place?”

Norah’s foreword is to a book called “Manners That Matter Most: The Easy Guide to Etiquette at Home and in the World” (Hatherleigh Press). It’s by June Eding, who asked Norah, a prominent New York publicist, to write an introduction. She was the perfect choice. Norah comes from an old world family in Canada, “properly raised,” as my grandmother would say. Norah and her lovely sisters are all successes in the Lower 48, but with a price. I’ve often seen them gap mouthed, slack jawed or wide eyed at some of the coarse things that go on here. We ignore them, being New Yorkers or Los Angelenos, because we’ve seen everything. But not everyone does.

Norah concludes: Good manners are in short supply today, not necessarily because people are less courteous, but because sources of guidance that are relevant to modern lifestyles and language are harder to come by.” June Eding picks up where my late friend Letitia Baldrige, Judith Martin (Miss Manners), and Dorothea Johnson leave off. Before we head into the full on holiday season, “Manners That Matter Most” seems like more urgent reading than “Mockingjay Part 2” or “Twilight: the Return of the Vampires.” Even the latter need to know where to put a napkin!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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