Correction: February 19, 2008
An article in some editions on Monday about a New York City Transit employee’s deft use of the semicolon in a public service placard was less deft in its punctuation of the title of a book by Lynne Truss, who called the placard a “lovely example” of proper punctuation. The title of the book is “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” — not “Eats Shoots & Leaves.” (The subtitle of Ms. Truss’s book is “The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.”)
I can’t believe they actually made a mistake like this. I laughed out loud (or LOLed; I don’t think I ROFLed because it’s covered with books). It must have been a very clever joke on the part of a creative sub-editor. Perhaps it was an odd tribute to Louis Menard, who infamously put the boot in in a New Yorker article. The article opened with these classic words:
The first punctuation mistake in “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation”, by Lynne Truss, a British writer, appears in the dedication, where a nonrestrictive clause is not preceded by a comma. It is a wild ride downhill from there.
You can guess where it went from there.
While we’re talking about the New York Times, though, I just have to mention this. As you’ve probably heard or read or seen or divined, the New York Times ran a story about John McCain and a lobbyist and the connection between them. I was much more interested, though, in the response from The New Republic (TNR), which is a detailed slab of meta-media, an analysis of how and why the Times ran the article…published less than 24 hours after the article it is commenting on was uploaded to the Times’ website! Clearly, the magazine (TNR) has been following this for some time – but it’s still an illustration of something, I just haven’t figured out what. For what it’s worth, I found the piece in TNR (or ‘the TNR’ – shades of The The?) more interesting than the Times article itself. The TNR article also has a cameo from Bob Bennett, who has a life-as-a-lawyer book called In The Ring coming out. Must keep an eye out for that.