By: Jim Rising
Publisher: Tribute Books
Publication Date: November 2007
Reviewed by: Pamela Victor
Review Date: July 2009
Jim Rising is probably a terrific uncle. He’s amusing, opinionated, kooky and kind - just perfect in the small and amusing doses ladled out in his book But Then Again I Could Be Wrong: The Book of Rants. During his four decades in the radio broadcast industry, Rising entertained listeners of 102.3 The Mountain WDMT in Pennsylvania with his droll observations, curmudgeonly grumblings, and goofy anecdotes. As he alerts readers in his “Forewarning,” But Then Again I Could Be Wrong is a collection of Rising’s radio “rants.” He cautions readers, “What you are seeing is a radio guy trying like hell to make sense on paper and it’s been a long strange trip indeed.”
Rising’s warnings are a bit of false modesty. For a radio guy, he does pretty well on paper. This book is well written and nicely edited. Rising’s stories are clean and concisely told. Readers who enjoy Bill Bryson will gobble up But Then Again I Could Be Wrong, as they will chuckle, guffaw, laugh out loud, and, occasionally, sigh at Rising’s insight while reading this book. Rising touches on a variety of topics, such as smoking, cell phones (“Is there a device that you can point at cell phones and make them blow up? Invent one and you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams”), driving, cops, email, winter in Pennsylvania (“Although it was a clear day it was as cold as a witch’s mammary gland in a brass bra”), the price of gas, nature, clumsiness (“I drop food on the floor and then slip on it trying to clean it up”), and a lawn tractor with a seemingly magnetic attraction to getting stuck in the mud. Though sometimes he revisits favorite topics and veers into redundancy, Rising’s rants still guarantee a raised eyebrow or a chuckle of recognition. We enjoy his short, humorous anecdotes in the way we would look forward to the daily shared coffee break with the guy in your office who always has a whopper to tell…or that lovable bear of an uncle who loosens up the table at family dinners.
The title of the book weaves its way into the last line of most of his tales. Whether he is complaining about people who throw their cigarette butts out car windows or contemplating mortality with the passing of the man who shouted “Tequila!” on the hit record, most stories conclude with some variation of “but then again I could be wrong.” At times it adds a nice touch of irony, such as when he spouts off vehemently on a topic and then cleverly undoes all his work with that final line. However, in other instances the final line disappoints and detracts from the humor and lively sense of debate. But who am I to come between a man and his tagline?
Rising’s stories are served up in bite-sized pieces, short one to three page yarns skipping merrily from topic to topic. But Then Again I Could Be Wrong is perfect for picking up and opening to a random page when you’re looking for a bit of a diversion and a smile. I suspect the author would not be insulted at the suggestion that this book would find a perfect home in the bathroom, where it could be enjoyed in small doses once a day. (But then again I could be wrong!)
Quill says: Everybody knows somebody who will get a huge kick out of this book! (Probably that somebody is you!)