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!
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.
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 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 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.
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.