Monday, October 4, 2021

Terry Fallis with a little humour

Trying to understand the world, serious books  are usually on my list of books to read (and blog about), but we all need a laugh once in a while and if there is some point to it, so much the better.  Terry Fallis has always had some sort of political involvement, but most of his books focus on human interactions rather than concerns with policies.  

My first awareness was with his first book, "The Best Laid Plans" which marked him as someone to follow.  His first novel experience was a trial.  Like beginners everywhere he met more rejection than encouragement.  He demonstrated determination and persistence by offering his book chapter by chapter on podcasts.  Eventually he caught on to publishers.   

This first novel not only won the Stephen Leacock award, but also the CBC Canada Reads program.   Later turned to a six part mini series.  The Canada Reads program is a great platform to make more Canadians aware of what our authors have to offer.  Check out

 It might surprise us to learn that at McMaster University he studied and graduated with an engineering degree.  He was also an activist for a wide range of causes and became the student union president.  A project even before engineering was hovercrafts which later he worked into some of his novels.

After graduation he became involved with the Liberal Party and eventually worked on campaigns and strategies for Jean Chretien and Michael Ignatieff.  Outside writing he has started a public relations firm.  Perhaps that is why he is very aware that to get things done it is better to be humourous.  You will recognize that he has liberal sympathies, but his writing avoids preaching and is more focused on personalities and their human foibles.   Michael Ignatieff has caught my attention and although not as humourous exhibits political awareness without being too preachy:

A key to the humour is that he uses a subjective voice of a likable character, that although naive in so many ways is also to spot the hypocrisy and pomposity of human nature.  There is a little romance to spice up things a little bit with the lovable awkward narrator involved.  No need for swearing or intimate details.

One character hit home to me is an older woman who has Parkinson's.  That is also in my family, and it is good to realize those stuck with the disease are functioning and likable. 

Although the characters often venture outside our borders the Canadian perspective is always evident.  Americans have lots of political satire, often noted for biting commentary.  Terry uses pseudonmys, although you might recognize similar personalities, but they are just similar.  Unless you are very hard right wing you probably will laugh at all the human foibles pointed out.

Some of the books are in sequence, most notably the ones that end (hopefully not) with "Operation Angus."  It is good to know that his humour does not depend upon the same set of characters.  In "Shy Brother" he uses twins in ingenious ways, based on I learned later that Terry is a twin.  His brother often helps out with his scripts.

His fourth book, "No Relation" won his second Stephen Leacock award.  It was based on the premise that people with similar names to a celebrity bear a burden.  True it may be trivial, but can have some impact and his subject hooks up with others with a similar burden.  You may have noticed that my blog title is "The Real John Davidson" and here is the background:

"Albatross" had an interesting premise.  Supposedly every body has a sport they are perfectly suited for.  Terry takes an unathletic boy who unknown to him at first is ideally suited for golf, despite no interest in that sport.  This leads to all sorts of humourous efforts that eventually demonstrate human nature for us ordinary folks.

There is not much emphasis on policies, but there is plenty of human nature insights.  Wipe off that frown and grab a Terry Fallis book.  For awhile you will be distracted and gain a different perspective on human nature.

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