Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis, reviewed by Jennifer Smith Gray

McLelland & Stewart, Canada, $19.99 (312 pages)

Terry Fallis’ The Best Laid Plans is funny – funny enough that it won the Leacock Award for humour. You could also say that it’s engaging, insightful, easy-to-read, well written, and all Canadian. That’s likely why it won the CBC’s Canada Reads contest.

Best Laid Plans tells the story of reluctant campaign manager Daniel Addison and his even more reluctant candidate for Parliament, Angus McLintock. Each man is driven to his role by ulterior motives, and though stuck in a long-shot riding during a Canadian federal election, each one feels he’s gotten one heck of deal.

Throughout the course of the campaign and its aftermath, the reader rides a wave of comical highs and hilarious lows with these two gentlemen as they both become painfully aware (sometimes quite literally) that they may have gotten more than they bargained for. Beginning with the catchy opening scene, there are moments of such humour that I found myself folding over the corners of pages and revisiting them often, just to be able to laugh at them all over again.

The story is told from the sarcastic and self-effacing viewpoint of Daniel, and the one-liners and cliché-ridden quips he delivers might leave the reader longing for a friend like him (or, more likely, like the author himself) to liven up water cooler talk, post-game banter, or Friday night dinner parties. In the midst of the hilarity, every chapter also adds touching commentary directly from Angus, and the book ties in a handful of colourful supporting characters to round things out.

Anyone interested in, or disinterested in, Canadian politics, should read this award-winning tale of Daniel and Angus. The Best Laid Plans is casual and fun, and cleverly satirical.

Jennifer Smith Gray is a graduate of the University of Waterloo's English - Rhetoric and Professional Writing program, and has extensive business and technical writing and editing experience. In recent years, she has been nurturing her inner creative writer, working on short stories, personal essays, and memoirs.

When she's not putting pen to paper, Jennifer enjoys exploring her East York neighbourhood with her husband and kids. Jennifer posts some writing here and occasionally tweets as @isshedreaming. You can read other reviews by Jennifer here and here.

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