Fallis’ first fails.

Reading The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis was more by accident than design.  Since this first book by Fallis won some award, it has been the rage with Canadian book clubs.  The wife is involved with a fun book club group that picked The Best Laid Plans for its March reading.  Since the Babel library had a waiting list for the book and Chapters did not have it in print form, we ordered a Kindle copy from Amazon for her.

The best thing about Kindle is that you get fast service.  What intrigued us was that the wife was alternately amused and annoyed with the book as she read it.  She had been told that the book was satire.  She did not seem sure.  When she had finished it, she handed us the Kindle and said, “You should read it.  Maybe you and I know too much about politics to appreciate the humour.  See what you think.”

The book gets a mixed review from this reader.  Satirically, it is more in the category of farce.  As an instruction book on running political campaigns, it scores at most a two out of a possible ten.  At the same time, Fallis does show a deep respect for parliament and the need for parliamentarians to understand the rules and procedures.

What he has written is a shallow Canadian version of Mr. Smith goes to Washington. The movie by that name was made in 1939 and was credited with launching Jimmy Stewart into Hollywood stardom.  It still shows up occasionally on late night television.  It is much more entertaining than Stewart’s 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life that haunts the television channels every Christmas.

As for Mr. Fallis’ book, you wonder for the first half, what is the point and, for the second half, why you are reading it.  Mind you the ending saves it as entertainment.  A wild ride up the Ottawa River in a home-made hovercraft in an Eastern Ontario snowstorm could have been good for more than one chapter.

Looking at a biography of Mr. Fallis, it is surprising that we have never met. Political Ottawa is a very small town when you break it down into the political parties.  And in that sense, Queen’s Park, during David Peterson’s tenure as Premier, was a village.  We must have passed in the halls.  How we missed him during his stint with the public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton is a mystery.

But politics is like the tides.  Our political career must have been on the ebb, when Fallis was getting his turn in the political wheelhouses.  The only advice we can give him is that, in politics, truth is much stranger than fiction.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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