03 May 2009

The best laid plans - Terry Fallis


One of the best comedic novels I have read. And I'm not just referring to this year or lately, I mean ever.

As a critic, you must always remember context. For example, if you go see a summer action movie like X-Men, you don't come out and criticize it for weak acting or a poor story line - no. As a summer action, you are looking for entertainment, crazy plot, a few laughs and lots of inane drivel. Same holds true for books. Terry Fallis has delivered a masterful work of comedic fiction. For his efforts, he was awarded the Stephen Leacock award for humour.

The plot is fairly straightforward, as one expects in a work of comedy. Angus McLintock is a 61 year professor of engineering at the University of Ottawa. He looks forward to drifting into retirement, sadly lamenting the passing of his dear wife, while working on a hovercraft, playing chess, and writing articles about proper grammar. Daniel Addison very recently left political life when he found his girlfriend - as he puts it - "very enthusiastically lobbying the caucas [of the Opposition house leader, for whom she works]." Deciding to quit politics, he moves to the rural community of Cumberland and takes on a job teaching English at the University of Ottawa. When Daniel agrees to one more favour to his friends in the Liberal party, the lives of Daniel, Angus, and the rest of the country are never the same.

I don't often say this or even mean it literally, but you will laugh out loud as you read this book, and I challenge you - whether your political colour be blue, red, orange, green or neutral - to admit that you would not vote for Angus McLintock if he were running in your next federal election. Outstanding effort by Fallis and to think that it had started out as a mere podcast!

I was running a phantom candidate, in a cash-strapped campaign we were sure to lose, aided by an ailing octogenarian, her attractive granddaughter, and two pierced punks.