Here’s to the paraprosdokians

Somewhat convoluted start to this blog. I’ll be doing some interviews for work of young boys who have brothers in their school, which got me thinking of the song and the line: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother,” then remembering a very moving essay by a young girl about the care she willingly took of her brother who had various severe handicaps.

Then, being of a writerly mind, I got curious about the phrase itself. Just now, when I should be novel-writing, I poked around and discovered that “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” is an example (as you all doubtless know) of the figure of speech called the paraprosdokian: a structure in which the second part of the line invites re-interpretation of the first part.

The indefatigable Wikipedia offers us time-wasters other examples of the paraprosdokian:

He was at his best when the going was good.” —Alistair Cooke on the Duke of Windsor

You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they have tried everything else.” — Winston Churchill

“A modest man, who has much to be modest about.” — again (reputedly) Winston Churchill

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” — Groucho Marx

“She looks as though she’s been poured into her clothes, and forgot to say ‘when’.” — P.G Wodehouse 

Do you have any paraprosdokians to share so we can all waste more time in harmless enjoyment of the English language?

Pamela Schoenewaldt, historical novels of immigration and the search for self in new worlds: WHEN WE WERE STRANGERS, SWIMMING IN THE MOON, and UNDER THE SAME BLUE SKY (all HarperCollins).

Posted in WWWS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Sunday, May 6, 2pm reading from latest work at Hexagon Brewing Company, Knoxville, TN.

Thursday, May 10, 6-8 pm presentation on research on the historical novel, Blount County Library, Maryville, TN.

When We Were Strangers, Italian translation, to be presented in Pescasseroli, Italy, August 2018.

Recent Review
“Absorbing and layered with rich historical details, in Under the Same Blue Sky, Schoenewaldt weaves a tender and at times, heartbreaking story about German-Americans during World War I. With remarkable compassion, the author skillfully portrays conflicted loyalties, the search for belonging, the cruelty of war, and the resilience of the human spirit.”—Ann Weisgarber, author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel Dupree

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts.

Join 2,018 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: