Best Laid Plans

December 29, 2008

With some heavy work still on my reading list (finishing the 9/11 Report, Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, and more books about genocide), it was an incredible pleasure to spend a week of the holiday reading Terry Fallis’ The Best Laid Plans, the Canadian political satire I mentioned earlier. It’s smart and funny and eerily prescient – a hastily-elected minority conservative government tries to use political confusion and economic woes to their advantage. And the book was published last year…and my friend and I heard Fallis in Port Colborne even before our real election took place.

It was exactly the kind of book I needed, too. And a great book for the turn of the year. I spent the fall embroiled in family issues and a frustrating job hunt, and while these things still aren’t entirely resolved, I am more optimistic. Mostly because of a type of attitude described in the book. A character quotes Mackenzie King (I haven’t been able to verify in Bartletts’ or online, but I’ve latched onto the quotation anyway):

“If you’ve really done absolutely everything you can and you still come up short, fate will smile on good people.”

Sure hope so. Thanks to Fallis for a great book, and to friend Sarah for going to the reading and buying my copy.

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I was told that if I went to the Roselawn (Port Colborne) reading series last night, I would see Noah Richler. This wasn’t the case, but it turned out to be a great experience, anyway.

Terry Fallis was the speaker. His “real” career is in political communications (and, as he said, will have to stay that way until the home renovations are paid off). So, when he decided to write a novel, it was about Canadian politics. Oh, and he’s also an engineer. So there’s some stuff about a hovercraft. And some S&M, but he says that’s the element of the story he didn’t already know about.

It was nice to finally have Canadian politics be the focus of something in my cultural sphere. Plus, I’m such a lover of satire. I’ll have to actually read the book (it’s just being widely published now, I’ll explain in a second) to know what sort of satire it is, but I think it’s so healthy for a political system, if done in a way that can actually have some impact.

The book is called The Best Laid Plans, and when Fallis couldn’t find an interested agent or publisher, he released it as a podcast (it’s still available on iTunes or on terryfallis.com). When it got up to the top 25 literary podcasts, and good feedback was coming in, Fallis decided to self-publish. Eventually, he sent in 10 copies of the self-published book, and his $150, to the committee for the Stephen Leacock Award. It was short-listed, and then won. And now it’s published by McClelland and Stewart. Oh, and there’s a Facebook group started by someone in Australia.

I just loved it as a story about what’s been made possible by the internet. Enough that I wanted to talk about it before I read it, which should happen soon.