So today I bought it so I could enjoy the ending. Here's the reason the book has this title:
A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.This book has spent some time on the New York Times bestseller list, and when first printed in the UK in 2003 became a sleeper hit, which nobody expected. You may have noticed that I had a career as a writer/editor, and I have always had an "inner stickler" that cringes when I see certain grammatical errors. The Internet and email are simply filled with these things. Wikipedia has, of course, a great page with all the critiques, good and bad, about the book here.
'Why?' asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
'Well, I'm a panda', he says, at the door. 'Look it up.'
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. 'Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.'
I think the thing that gets me the most is the misuse of the possessive its. Lynn Truss actually goes a bit farther than I would, but I tend to see this grammatical error everywhere, including in newscasts, headlines, and everything else. It drives me a little crazy, but not as crazy as this (quote from p. 43 of the book):
To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as "Thank God its Friday" (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence. The confusion of the possessive "its" (no apostrophe) with the contractive "it's" (with apostrophe) is an unequivocal signal of illiteracy and sets off a simple Pavlovian "kill" response in the average stickler. The rule is: the word "it's" (with apostrophe) stands for "it is" or "it has." If the word does not stand for "it is" or "it has" then what you require is "its." The is extremely easy to grasp. Getting your itses mixed up is the greatest solecism in the world of punctuation. No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you still persist in writing, "Good food at it's best," you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.Like I said, okay, she's gone a little bit off the deep end here, but I get a pretty strong visceral response when I read it. And I see this particular grammatical mistake everywhere. I wish there was something I could do to lessen its frequency. Oh, wait: maybe that is what I'm doing!!
Please get the book and read it, if you want to have a thoroughly entertaining read and one that is also quite illuminating to the average person. I have enjoyed it on the second reading, probably more than on the first.