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The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis

Click to visit Terry Fallis' website.

Click to visit Terry Fallis’ website.

Originally it was my intention to participate in the Write Reads read-along of The Best Laid Plans, but I couldn’t get through my other books fast enough. I feel bad because I voted for the book and didn’t even read it on time! Sorry Kirt and Tania!

THE AUTHOR
Terry Fallis is a Canadian author and former political strategist for the Liberal Party of Canada. The Best Laid Plans was first released as a podcast and then self-published. In 2008, the book won the Stephen Leacock Medal followed by the 2011 Canada Reads competition.

THE STORY
Disillusioned with politics, Daniel Addison decides to leave his job in Ottawa as a speechwriter for the Leader of the Opposition Party of Canada. But before the party will let him go, Daniel has to find a Liberal candidate for a local riding that has been held by a popular Tory politician for years. Daniel moves to the riding and approaches Muriel Parkinson, a former Liberal candidate who ran unsuccessfully for several elections. Muriel isn’t interested in running again, but agrees to help Daniel find a candidate. Meanwhile, Daniel is getting to know his landlord, Angus McLintock, a widowed engineering professor. Angus is a grumpy, grizzled Scotsman, but Daniel slowly wins his trust and friendship. Angus has been saddled with teaching English for Engineers, a course he loathes, and Daniel makes him an offer he can’t refuse: Daniel will teach the course if Angus runs in the upcoming election. And so begins the hilarious election campaign, as Daniel struggles with a lack of resources, a fiercely strong-minded candidate and an irate political party breathing down his neck.

THE GOOD
The Best Laid Plans is a very funny, yet thorough examination of Canadian politicians and politics in all its glorious absurdity, stupidity and good intentions on behalf of the country. Although it has a movie-of-the-week fairytale feel to the story, I enjoyed Daniel Addison’s self-deprecating narration. It was a good reminder that the book is a satire and not to be taken too seriously.

THE BAD
The Best Laid Plans is 100% a Canadian story and would probably have little appeal to anyone outside of this country (unless they were a political geek, I guess). In addition, I found Terry Fallis laid it on a little too thick with Angus McLintock’s Scottish stereotype and all the farting was just juvenile and gross.

CONCLUSION
It occurred to me as I read The Best Laid Plans that politics is the most palatable when served up as a comedy. This may explain why I gravitate towards shows like This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Daily Show, etc. where making fun of politics is the modus operandi. When things are so ridiculously bad, sometimes all you can do is laugh about it. For this reason, it makes sense to me why this book is popular and won so many awards. Terry Fallis has successfully turned what many despise into something both funny and thought-provoking, and I think such talent deserves recognition.

3.5/5 Stars

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9 comments on “The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis

  1. writereads
    August 12, 2014

    I completely agree with you about politics and comedy (I often have a good laugh reading mainstream, straight-up “journalistic” articles about politics). Do you think BLP was as funny as This Hour or The Daily Show? I am a big fan of both shows (particularly Rick’s Rants) and I don’t think Fallis brought that level of funny. I could be wrong, though (Tania certainly enjoyed the humour more than I did). Despite what some people may think that I think, I am sometimes wrong about things.

    You shouldn’t feel bad at all about not finishing the book on time. One of the beauties of Write Reads (I think) is that you can read the book at your leisure and then listen to the podcast whenever you want to. We have no problems with getting comments long after the podcast is released. All participation is good in our books. Except for comments like, “Phlerg.” That’s not useful.

    Thanks for being a devoted listener and for jumping in with your thoughts. We really enjoy it. – Kirt

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    • ebookclassics
      August 13, 2014

      I agree that Fallis isn’t as funny as Rick Mercer, but I enjoyed the humour in this book (except the gross stuff). Do you think you will read any of his other books? I love your podcast and blog. Look forward to what you guys have planned for the rest of the year!

      Like

      • writereads
        August 13, 2014

        I think I’ll give Up and Down a try. Tania liked it. I might not get to it for a while, though. The TBR pile is imposing and growing.

        Like

  2. Naomi
    August 12, 2014

    What I liked about this book is that it actually got me to read a book about politics. I wanted tot read it, but was worried I’d find it boring, so I was pleasantly surprised. I liked Angus a lot, but I agree about the farting. 🙂

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    • ebookclassics
      August 13, 2014

      Ha ha, yes the farting was so unnecessary! But the rest of the book makes up for it.

      Like

  3. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy
    August 13, 2014

    I’m so not a political geek, but I agree that politics is more palatable when there is humor involved. Probably if more politicians had a sense of humor things in general would be better too! I’m glad this was an interesting read for you, even if it wasn’t perfect.

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    • ebookclassics
      August 20, 2014

      Hmm… your comment makes me wonder if there are any other books of fiction out there that are both political and funny.

      Like

  4. DoingDewey
    August 15, 2014

    I’d like to try some Canadian lit since several bloggers I follow seem to really like it and it sounds like it can be very distinctive. Since it sounds like not being Canadian could make this particular book hard to appreciate, I think I’ll pass. Great review 🙂

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      August 20, 2014

      Thanks! You might want to try one of Terry Fallis’ other books which are not so heavy on the Canadian references. He has a new one out called “No Relation” about a guy named Ernest Hemingway. I haven’t read it yet, but other bloggers seem to agree it’s a funny book.

      Like

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