Eats, Shoots and Leaves
I am reading said book and greatly enjoying it. I was struck, as is my wont, by a line from a Hallmark ad on TV featuring the "Polar Express Santa." The PE Santa says (in the ad) "Remember the magic of Christmas lies in your heart." Which is all well and good. However, if you read the word "lies" as a noun instead of a verb, it rather changes the meaning of the sentiment or, in this case the Santament, rather dramatically. Nez pah?
In a simlar vein, one of my all-time favorite headlines (I wish I'd saved it) was in the Japan Times back in about 1979. I read the headline as a report of bandits in towns finding hotels to be a prime target. The headline was "Small Town Outlaws Love Hotels." Reasonable interpretation on my part I think. So to explain where I went wrong, I have to tell of a Japanese instituion which was quite prevalent then (and may still be). There are small hotels - and some really big ones in big cities - which cater for lovers who have no other place to consumate their affections. They are called, not surprisingly, "love hotels."
So my story was actually about a small town that banned these inns. I read the verb as a noun and an adjective as a verb. That takes talent. Not only that, I was two paragraphs into the story before I realized my mistake.
Merry Christmas one and all!