Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Review: The Pun Also Rises by John Pollack

Clever title, no?  I love puns and I think they can be hilarious when cleverly done (although too often they deserve the common consideration of low humor).  But if you've ever read The Phantom Tollbooth, or if you've payed close attention to Shakespeare, you've seen some great (and smart) puns!  Pollack's book is something like a natural history examination of the pun.  He traces the roots of punning as well as some of the most famous punsters (although some, like Thomas Jefferson, are more famous for other things).  We also learn about the "science" of puns: how they work and how the brain processes them. 

Top notch.  The author previously worked as a speechwriter for Bill Clinton, and his knowledge shows.  The book is well-researched and documented (something that is always important to me).  I had no problems technically with any of the writing.  It's a scholarly work, non-fiction, but you can also see how the author was successful as a speechwriter - he is able to present complex material in an interesting way.  The historical anecdotes in particular and told in an engaging and funny voice. 

I think a lot of the entertainment value of this book is going to be based on whether or not you like puns.  If you hate puns, you may not find the book very interesting based on the topic.  I personally found it to be funny and clever and loved reading the stories of the origins of the pun.  But if it's not your type of humor, you may not find the stories as clever or interesting.  It's not that the book is written in pun, it's actually written in a more scholarly manner, but I don't know that I would be interested in it were it not a form of humor I enjoy.  So, if you're a lover of language and the ways it can be manipulated, check this one out! 

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I love puns but am not very good at dreaming them up!

    Thanks for being on the tour!