2004-10-28: Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (2004)

by Lynne Truss (1955-)

This book was mentioned on a weblog by an editor of computer books. In part, he was surprised by the fact that a book about punctuation could be interesting. I requested it from the library, and also found it interesting.

Truss is a stickler, and apparently easily aroused to intolerance. The book is full of examples of punctuation misuse, as a way to pound home its proper use. She claims to want people to paint out (or in) apostrophes and the like where they are found (or missing) in public places.

The book is fairly interesting, but I suspect it achieved best-seller status (in Britain) without being read as many times as it was sold.

It’s possible my attention wandered at the critical point, but I didn’t see the title phrase in the book; it is on the back of the jacket, thus:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a meal and consumes it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes for the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife booklet and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says, at the door. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like animal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”


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