Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Pun Also Rises by John Pollack (TLC Tour)

The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics by John Pollack (Rated: C)
Gotham Books
ISBN: 978-1592406234
Published April 14, 2011
Hardcover, 240 pages

This book is an absolute delight to read! On the day it arrived, I began reading it and couldn't put it down. I gave it to my hubby that same night and could hear him chuckling as he too was caught up with the author's captivating introduction. The book continues by describing the different types of puns (who knew?), their history (they go way way back), the fascinating way our brains process puns (loved this), and how important and prevalent it is in languages.

If you are a lover of languages, this book will appeal to you. Puns are witty and add a new dimension to language whether we are aware of it or not. Right from when we are children, we fall in love with the humble pun:

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Isabelle who?
Isabelle necessary on a bicycle?

Remember those? My children who speak three languages absolutely love exploring jokes and puns in the languages they know, and this book gave me insight as to why that it. Relate a knock-knock joke to a child and the look of delight when they “get” the double meaning or the play on words is priceless. Continuing to experience that “delight” in wordplay comes from the more sophisticated puns adults create. Pollack reminds us of this when he dissects the pun, and we come to understand how utterly beautiful and complex language really is. It's what differentiates us from the animal kingdom and leaves us in awe of the incredible human brain and its capacity to learn, speak, and wordplay in various languages.

Punning is fun and funny. It requires a quick wit and a mastery of language. It adds so much to our speech and writing. In the days following my reading of this book I began to notice the different kind of puns in the material I read, and I grew to have an appreciation for the spice it adds to life.

The book also contains extensive endnotes and bibliography attesting to the amount of research Pollack dedicated to his favourite topic. Because of the amount of information in each of the five chapters, I think a few more sub-headings would have helped break it down into more manageable chunks for easier reference. Sometimes I found myself trying to find a specific passage and couldn't pinpoint where in the book I had read it.

Pollack's narrative is infectious however, as he peppers his content not only with puns (such as in his title which contains homophonic puns) but examples of them as he delves into its history and semantics. Truly a fascinating look at the humble pun.

Read my interview with John Pollack and enter my giveaway for this book on Friday, May 13!

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About the Author:
John Pollack is a journalist, author, and former Special Assistant and Presidential Speechwriter to Bill Clinton. He has written for publications such as the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Advertising Age, and the Associated Press. He was named the World Pun Champion at the 1995 O. Henry World Championship Pun-off and has written speeches for corporate and public-sector leaders such as Jeffrey Katzenberg, Carly Fiorina, John Glenn, David de Rothschild, and actress Goldie Hawn. He currently works as a speechwriter and consultant for ROI Communication, an internal communication consulting firm. He lives in Manhattan.

Disclosure: Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Gotham Books for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. Thanks for the review! I have a friend who this book would be perfect for!

  2. I'm so glad you liked the book! I love puns but am not that quick about dreaming them up. Thanks so much for being on the tour!


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