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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Best Laid Plans - Review

I'm currently listening/reading my way through three different audio books at once. Was going to do one at a time, but I wanted some variety. They're all good, and all favorites, but for different reasons.

One is Terry Fallis book, "The Best Laid Plans." This is a political satire, and it's certainly not my first. It is, however, my first Canadian political satire.

Daniel is an experienced Liberal political activist who's worked for the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, who's become thoroughly disillusioned with top-level party politics. He decides to leave, but doesn't want to make enemies among the high & mighty. So he takes on one last task: to run a campaign in a Riding where there's a tremendously popular and charismatic Conservative incumbent. He isn't expected to win. He's expected to get a candidate, run a campaign, and fail gracefully, so the Party doesn't look bad.

I've read a fair number of political satires, and this book touches all the usual bases for such. There's our young and disillusioned Hero, the beautiful Love Interest, the bumbling Authorities, the smart-but-tired Old Wise Head, the two strange-but-noble Freaks (seems to me there are always two). And there's the idiosyncratic Candidate, who refuses to run a conventional campaign. I know how these usually end, and I suspect I know how this one will end.


I'd first come across Terry Fallis on his podcast, "Inside PR." He's a knowledgeable and respectable PR professional with years of experience, including experience in a position similar to our Hero. (I doubt the book is autobiographical, exactly.) Initially, it kinda threw me hearing his voice as a novelist, but I got used to it. He's also very well educated and articulate, and since our Hero Daniel (in the Lions' Den?) is a Ph.D. and English professor, that helps a lot.

The politics is interesting. Sure, it's Canadian politics, that's part of it's charm. The book is even educational, in that sense. I won't try to explain any of it to you, that's what the book is for, in part. And yet, there's plenty that's recognizeable to a Minnesota boy like me. I even ran as a candidate in a guaranteed-to-lose election once. Politiicians are politicians, sad to say.

The characters are charming. The "grumpy but loveable" candidate, Angus MacClintock, is also smart, well educated, clever, and inventive -- and no, they're not all the same thing. Look it up. The story is told from the first person Hero, which is also standard, but works well in this book.

One comes away with the feeling (as usual?) that one could wish more such people were involved in the political process on both sides of our border, and in all other countries as well. And maybe they are. One can hope, too.

I encourage you to listen to this book. It's available at and at author Terry Fallis' website, in both cases via podcast.

And also, of course, it's available in real, hold-it-in-your-hand book form through, through this link: The Best Laid Plans: A Novel

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