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Friday, March 15, 2013
Eighteenth-century English writer Samuel Johnson may have described puns as the lowest form of humor, but they have been gleefully used by thousands of other writers from the Roman playwright Plautus (who punned in Latin) to William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and even Isaac Asimov .
At a recent book club meeting at the Wytheville library, a spontaneous one caused a stir in a place where you would think that quiet would prevail (although this library's eight monthly book clubs have never been quiet).
One of the stories being discussed was by O. Henry who, the group learned, was really William Sydney Porter .
He once served a penitentiary term for embezzlement, but even then turned out stories under the O. Henry byline.
"Oh," said one of the club members. "Then it was a pen name."
It only took a split-second before the group erupted in laughter.
- Paul Dellinger is a retired Roanoke Times reporter, now a reader in Wytheville
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