Monday, June 27, 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

I finished Terry Fallis' The Best Laid Plans this morning, which turned out to be the perfect literary palate cleanser after reading Sarah Blake's The Postmistress and Peter Cameron's Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.

As is usually the case, I always feel the need for something light after reading a novel set in WWII - the third section of The Postmistress, Spring 1941, was particularly hard to read at some points as Frankie Bard, the intrepid radio broadcaster rode the trains through Nazi-occupied Europe to get the real truth about what was happening to the Jews. 

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You was a recommendation by Lainey.  The writing is smart and funny and it's set in Manhattan 2003 which was different enough for me but I still felt a little unsettled by the wasn't the "happy ending" I was looking I browsed my bookcase and settled on The Best Laid Plans. Perfeito!

The Best Laid Plans had an unconventional start as a free weekly podcast by its author, Terry Fallis.  It's a book about, of all things, Canadian Federal politics and it's FUNNY!  SO FUNNY!  I's totally weird for me to see politics and funny in the same sentence but it's true! Read it for yourself, or listen to the podcast here

From the back covers:
Terry Fallis got tired of waiting for a literary agent or a publisher to decide to take on his book.  So he recorded a reading of his novel, and released it, chapter by chapter, as a podcast.  People really liked it.  Encouraged by that reaction, he published the book on his own.  Again, people really liked it.

Then it won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, beating out major authors published by the big houses.  And people really liked that.
It's a satire on Canadian politics, especially the modern Ottawa version, and it's full of unforgettable characters and a story that will sweep you along.  Sex in the hallowed halls of Parliament, caucus manipulation, melon-throwing violence, culturally stunted engineers, chessboard battles, and even a personal hovercraft all feature in this plot.  Not to mention true love, and good guys winning.

In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts.  Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say - for example, that Emma Trask has come to marry the town's doctor, and that Harry Vale watches the ocean for U-boats.  Iris believes her job is to deliver secrets.  Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it.

Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow.  Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly.  Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them.  But Iris and Emma and Frankie know better...

The Postmistress is a tale of tow worlds - one shattered by violence, the other willfully naive - and of two women whose jobs are to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so.  Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history's tide, it examines how we tell each other stories, and how we bear the fact of war as we live ordinary lives.

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is the story of James Sveck, a sophisticated, vulnerable young man with a deep appreciation for the world and no idea how to live in it.  James is eighteen, the child of divorced parents living in Manhattan.  Articulate, sensitive, and cynical, he rejects all of the assumptions that govern the adult world around him - including the expectation that he will go to college in the fall.  He would prefer to move to an old house in a small town somewhere in the Midwest.  Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You takes place over a few broiling days in the summer of 2003 as James confides in his sympathetic grandmother, stymies his canny therapist, deplores his pretentious sister, and devises a fake online identity in order to pursue his crush on a much older coworker.  Nothing turns out how he'd expected.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...