Review: The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis – Canada Reads

2 Feb

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd
Released: Sept 5, 2008
Genre: Canadian literature, politics, satire
Review copy from the wonderful folks at CBC Books.

Here’s the set up: A burnt-out politcal aide quits just before an election — but is forced to run a hopeless campaign on the way out. He makes a deal with a crusty old Scot, Angus McLintock — an engineering professor who will do anything, anything, to avoid teaching English to engineers — to let his name stand in the election. No need to campaign, certain to lose, and so on.

Then a great scandal blows away his opponent, and to their horror, Angus is elected. He decides to see what good an honest M.P. who doesn’t care about being re-elected can do in Parliament. The results are hilarious — and with chess, a hovercraft, and the love of a good woman thrown in, this very funny book has something for everyone.

From McClelland & Stewart website.

Okay, so, yeah, I just didn’t dig this book. Sorry. It’s not that it wasn’t well-written (because it was) or that the story sucked (because it didn’t). I think it’s just a matter of it not being my kinda book. Which blows. But there you have it.

I find books that I didn’t like simply because they weren’t really my genre the hardest to review. I mean, what can I say? This is a political satire written in a style that I just don’t like. Does it mean it’s a shitty book? Hell no. Does it mean I’m a dumb-ass who just didn’t “get it”. Nopes. It just means that this wasn’t a good fit for me.

I started out with high hopes that I would fall in love with The Best Laid Plans. I like funny books. I like poking fun at politicians. But, alas, the love affair was never to happen. Sure, I found parts of the book humorous, but not laugh out loud funny. And, in all honesty, there were complete parts of the book I skipped. Go ahead and gasp, leave comments telling me I obviously didn’t like it because I didn’t read it all. But let me explain.

So, one of the characters, Angus, writes in a journal to his dead wife. Yeah, I basically skipped all these journal entries. Why? Because they summarized everything that had just happened. Everything I had just read about. I know that the point of the journal entries was so that the reader could get a true feel of Angus’ perception of what was happening, but the entries that I did try to read just seemed to be a rehashing. Maybe I missed key things. Maybe not. But I know if I had forced myself to read these entries I wouldn’t have finished the book.

I wasn’t a fan of the main character, Daniel, either, through no fault of his or the author’s. The way Daniel spoke was a bit pretentious and reminded me of a fella that I know and can’t stand. He’s a pretentious twit. I avoid him at all cost. So, unfortunately, I kinda ended up hating Daniel through osmosis. Like when you meet a jerk named Blake and from that moment forward, you forever HATE the name Blake. Not fair, I know, but thems the breaks.

And here’s where I make your head explode: despite the fact that I didn’t like The Best Laid Plans, I think it deserves to be a Canada Reads finalist. Yep, I do. This is a tale of an underdog who wants to stay an underdog and what happens when said underdog has to rise to the occasion and lead. It’s about changing the status quo and being true to who you are. And if that ain’t Canadian, then I don’t know what it.



3 Responses to “Review: The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis – Canada Reads”

  1. jodi (bloomingwriter) February 2, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    This is why I enjoy your reviews, Ms LL: You’re honest about the books you read. I haven’t read this one–I have only read The Birth House of the Canada Reads books and since I don’t LIKE Canada Reads and won’t listen to it, I don’t expect to rush out and buy any of the other books based on that fiasco of a show. But I am enjoying your take on the books, and your refreshingly frank reviews.

    • lavenderlines February 2, 2011 at 8:45 am #

      Aw, thanks Jodi! I do my best to be honest and not too snarky at the same time.

  2. sheree February 2, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    “Tis with our judgements as our watches, none
    Go just alike, yet each believes his own.

    —Alexander Pope Essay on Criticism

    (or hers!!) Pope’s words can keep reviewers humble and writers sane. Love when folks have confidence to offer thoughts. Not so keen when they think it THE one and only truth. You know you are only one reader and that comes through. Snarky- mean smells like sour grapes to most writers. Snarky-kind smells lemon. Bottom line (imho) —-informed opinions/critiques serve THE WORK, not the reviewer or the writer. THE WORK. Agree with Jodi on the Canada Reads. Why I took part in indie canada reads … see kerry clare’s blog picklemethis. No author had to launch a voting campaign.

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