The Panda Story
A book about punctuation called "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" has been receiving a good deal of attention from reviewers lately and has been a best seller in England. I am delighted that so many people are interested in commas. In this context, I'd like to refer interested readers to page 35 of my Steering the Craft the chapter about punctuation, which ends:
"I will now tell the Panda Story to illustrate the importance of the presence or the absence of the comma. This panda walked into a tea shop and ordered a salad and ate it. Then it pulled out a pistol, shot the man at the next table dead, and walked out. Everyone rushed after it, shouting, 'Stop! Stop! Why did you do that?' 'Because I'm a panda,' said the panda. 'That's what pandas do. If you don't believe me, look in the dictionary.' So they looked in the dictionary and sure enough they found Panda: Raccoon-like animal of Asia. Eats shoots and leaves."
Steering the Craft was published in 1998. I was told the Panda
Story by Todd Barton, the composer, in Ashland, a year or two earlier
than that. Funny stories belong to everyone, of course, but I like
to give credit where credit is due, and I realise now that I never
did properly credit Todd. Hey, Todd! Thanks! Your panda marches on!
Copyright © 2004 by Ursula K. Le Guin