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Get Thee to a Punnery: An Anthology of Intentional Assaults Upon the English Language    by Richard Lederer order for
Get Thee to a Punnery
by Richard Lederer
Order:  USA  Can
Gibbs Smith, 2006 (1988)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This delightful small book is filled with amusing puns and interactive word games (tests of punupmanship with words to be filled in and answers at the back of the book) to while away the time. It starts with Richard Lederer's paean In Praise of Puns, and moves on through examples of word plays to homographs, homophones, knock-knock jokes, Anguish Languish (like the classic story of Ladle Rat Rotten Hut), spoonerisms and set-ups.

I chuckled over the riddle, 'What happened to the boy who drank 8 Cokes? / He burped 7-Up' and remembered elephant jokes with nostalgia. Literary puns are covered from Homer to Shakespeare, after which Lederer gives examples of modern punny signs ('Edifice Wrecks' in a junkyard) and license plates ('LOCMUP' on a police car). In A Primer of Puns, the author explains and presents homographs, homophones, double-sound puns (like the familiar knock-knock jokes), meld puns and spoonerisms. This double-sound pun is from Fred Allen: 'Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns. He ought to be drawn and quoted.'

Here's another of my favorites - 'When a musician left his saxophone and violins on top of the television set, his wife complained that there was too much sax and violins on television.' There are name puns ('Josh, and I'm a comedian'); geographical puns ('I'm between Iraq and a hard place'); inflationary language (e.g. cerelevenly for certainly); Tom Swifties ('"Ships ahoy," said Tom fleetingly'), Croakers and Double Croakers; puns on death ('Old mathematicians never die - they just go off on a tangent'); and Daffynitions (like city elf for metronome).

Who would have ever thought there was so much fun to be found in punnery? Give Get Thee to a Punnery to anyone with a passion for language in all its quirkiness. My teen son and I passed it back and forth, pointing out favorites and reveling in punupmanship.

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