Having fun with word play

I have a special admiration for authors who can incorporate word play into their writing. The writing process itself can be arduous and mentally taxing – but add word play and you elevate the process to a whole new level. How does an author come up with palindrome after palindrome (a word, line, or sentence that reads the same forward and backward, such as "Madam, I’m Adam") like Barbara Kingslover does in The Poisonwood Bible? The story itself is deep, engaging, thought-provoking and well-written. In a novel of such depth you wouldn't expect to find such a high level of word play. I am convinced this is pure genius. 

It takes a lot of creativeness and cleverness to carry out word play and not lose depth and meaning in a story. Mark Dunn, in his novel, Ella Minnow Pea (get it?) is an amazing example of this cleverness. Throughout the book, letters of the alphabet are lost and forbidden from use, but Dunn creatively uses phonics to finish the story, and it’s amazing to see how the story continues to develop despite the loss of certain words. It’s not just the story I enjoy but the creativeness of Dunn, too. It’s a whole new level of writing, like trying to rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time – something I can’t do and no matter how hard I try and I am just sure I will never  be able to. This is why I admire authors who have this unique ability.

Others I have enjoyed for their use of words play include:

John Green in his Abundance of Katherines in which he creatively uses anagrams throughout the story of young Colin, a child prodigy who  “just for fun” likes to anagram.

Both Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, while often considered juvenile fiction, are full of humorous puns and word play that is best appreciated as an adult.

And for a quick non-fiction read full of word play and all that can go wrong in the world of words (especially if proper punctuation is not used) I highly recommend, Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss.

What are your favorite word play books? I'm always looking for more to read!


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