Bill Cosby eats shoots and leaves

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You all know I’d rather eat cilantro than read and review a book. But a book jacket? Bring it on. So: just noticed this on The Slot, the terrific blog for and by copy editors:


Just who are these Come On People? Do they hail from the land of lewd solicitations? Is it a secret race of pick-up artists?

What Cosby means, of course, is Come On, People, with the emphasis probably on the On. It’s a treatise along the lines of the speeches he’s been making around the country recently to try to get African-Americans to buck up and succeed in life.

So where’s the all-important comma? Were the copy editors off duty at Thomas Nelson, the publishers? And even if Cosby’s grammar chops are lacking, what excuse does his co-author, Harvard professor Alvin F. Poussaint, have? As reader E.K. Hornbeck says in a comment on The Slot,

I am baffled that a book could make it all the way to print without at least someone realizing that it lacked important punctuation in the freaking title — especially in such an obvious case.

My guess is this was no mere oversight. The publishers—with pressure perhaps from the designers—decided the comma was unnecessary. It would befoul the jacket design, require extra ink, break up the flow of the message or whatever the hell.

It’s hardly the first time. I remember scratching my head when Love Actually, the gooey British romantic comedy, came out. Huh? And don’t even get me started on song titles: would anyone out there like to Cum on Feel the Noize?

Is punctuation unfashionable in movie, song and book titles? If so, why? Enlighten me here.