Battlepanda: Monday Book Blogging: Eats, Shoots and Leaves


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday Book Blogging: Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Trusse

A panda walks into a bar and orders a sandwich. After he finishes the sandwich, he pulls out a shotgun and fires twice before heading to the door. The owner called after him, "why did you do that for?" "Look it up for yourself," the panda said as he tossed a battered old copy of a Wildlife Guide. Under "Panda", it said "Large bear-like mammal from China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

How a misplace comma can wreck havoc...hyuk hyuk.

I'm teaching the SATs right now, so several points in the book were actually useful to me. In particular, the book helped me convince some doubtful students that it really is OK to use a comma to imply missing information as in this sentence -- "Fear prevents some people from speaking out against prejudice; ignorance, others; a lax sense of morality, only a few." -- no errors here! Really!

You'll know from a couple of pages in whether you will find this book hilarious or insufferable. I belong to the first camp, but I can't help but think back to what I learnt in psychology class about how kids find jokes in which the punchline hinges on a piece of knowledge that was only recently grasped especially humerous. Thus with 4-year-olds everything with poop in it is funny. Well, for me, this book is funny because it contained a number of "lightbulb" moments. I had been kind of anxious about my rampant semi-colon habit; after reading this book, I feel like one of the cool kids instead.

I won't ever become a stickler a la Trusse though. Punctuation is a means to an end -- I appreciate hints that will make my own writings easier to read, but I don't think I'd feel right hectoring somebody else about their punctuation (unless I'm being paid to do it). Besides, they'd probably turn around and hector me right back at my terrible grammar. Alas, Ms. Trusse has written no similarly light-hearted and informative guide to grammar.