Friday, April 29, 2011

The Pun Also Rises by John Pollack

I am the kind of person who is always making (and then laughing at) their own puns, usually ones which aren't very good or clever but which I enjoy nonetheless. So of course I had to read John Pollack's history of the pun, The Pun Also Rises. The book provides a brief overview of how the pun developed, the origin of various puns, as well as peoples' perception of puns over time.

The Pun Also Rises is divided into five chapters with a prologue in which Pollack competes in the World Pun Championships. Occasionally Pollack gets distracted and may ramble on for a page or two about how a historical figure never received love from his mother (Grimod) or what the anatomy of the ear drum is like. Although there are potentially interesting tidbits, they really having nothing, or very little, to do with the topic of the book and so I found them more distracting than anything. However, other readers might appreciate these offshoots more than I did.

The aspect of The Pun Also Rises that lost me most is Pollack's constant defense of the pun, supposedly against harsh critics who would eliminate all puns. Although he gives examples throughout history, none of them are contemporary, and I honestly cannot think of a single time I have ever heard of anyone claim to want all puns gone. Sure, not everyone finds them funny, but the implication of the book is far more serious than that and it is one I really felt needed more support if it was supposed to be believable.

That said, The Pun Also Rises is a fun enjoyable book which reminded me slightly of Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss for the way that it takes a topic that is not necessarily riveting and explains it in a way that is both interesting and informative. Pollack talks about all the important places we find puns these days, and inserts some subtle ones himself- such as the subtitle of the book. I'm also pretty sure that if I read the book again, there would be way more puns that I did not pick up the first time, and for that reason this is definitely not a book you want to rush through. Asides from the making me chuckle, like any good non-fiction, I learned a lot, and I would definitely recommend the book to individuals interested in linguistics and wordplay. Although I was slightly puzzled by Pollack's need to repeatedly defend the pun, overall The Pun Also Rises is a brief, informative and intelligent introduction to the history of the humble and wonderful pun.

Release Date: April 14th, 2011
Pages: 224
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This review was a part of TLC Book Tours. Click here to read what other tour hosts thought. For the purpose of this review I was provided with a copy of the book which did not require a positive review. The opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.


  1. I love puns (as evidenced by my blog name)! What a fun book. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love puns too but am not very good at them! Thanks so much for being on the tour.


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