Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Best Laid Plans

Terry FallisTerry Fallis self-published, as I did, but rather than having to sell it out of his car's trunk, the breakthrough came when The Best Laid Plans was won the 2008 Leacock Medal for Humour. I am somewhat defeated when it comes to self-publishing, I cannot get any media attention since the big-name publishers can have an interview and 15 minutes of fame with just a phone call to any media outlet. Mine is a heavy-duty topic, too: cancer.

Terry's book, however, deserves the attention of the Canadian public. He has taken his experience in politics and created a humorous look at life on the hill! He has used a marketing strategy that has launched his book quite well.

From his website:
"Terry Fallis is the author of The Best Laid Plans, a satirical novel of Canadian politics. This debut novel was originally self-published in 2007 and won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. Then McClelland & Stewart published TBLP in September 2008. He also won the Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Regional Fiction - Canada East category."

I love reading. With retirement, comes more time to do the things you like. Reading is one. Combining chores with pleasure, I have been listening to the podcast of The Best Laid Plans as I work. As with many authors, Terry has a blog, he is on Facebook, and has a following. He has been making many speeches, the last at the Ontario Legislature. See his blog post: "Now this was a thrill…"

This book has won awards, and rightly so. Firstly, it is a humorous look at Canadian politics. With a son-in-law (a P.Eng, BTW) just named Green Party candidate in Nepean-Carleton, (am I proud?)! I am eager to listen to tales of same. Having lived 25 years in Ottawa - you just have to become a political animal. The plot, the characters, the incidents ring true. I have met and worked with these people. I find myself giggling, even while standing atop a ladder, arms sore from sanding and scraping.

Terry embeds the work with description, and with references to people, places and things that are dear to my heart: women's liberation, Ottawa, the Hill, university life: uOttawa ( where I earned my B.Ed. and taught a semester!), teaching adults (is it on the exam?), plagiarism, university politics. All his underlying themes and messages speak to me. But the strongest one was bereavement, and it was most beautifully portrayed. As I am a former caregiver and a current Hospice Volunteer, I found he treated the subject with grace and illumination.

While it is predictable, it is a satire - you know the political Achilles' heels, it is rather funny! Like Stuart McLean's on Vinyl Cafe, you know the hole the main character has dug himself, you can identify with it, and you can laugh with him as he walks into it. That is anticipatory humour at its most delicious. Little toilet humour - there is some!, but it adds to the character development and rings true.

The author, Terry Fallis, is an articulate, well-read, educated politico (not an oxymoron!), who uses interesting words one likes to taste and reflect on: nascent and assiduous. Words that demand that you think. I can identify with the main character. I jumped into union politics in the early 90s, and I saw what goes on. And still I laughed!
One memorable quote, " I didn't see the soap box until it was beneath my feet!"

Regarding Terry's target audience; politicians, politicos, and Ottawans, anyone who has ever voted, they (we) are the target. If you cannot laugh at yourself, then you cannot laugh. His self-deprecating humour, as a former party pundit, lends insight to the novel. You know he has lived this life. You know that satire is based on more than a kernel of truth. It is based on a whole bowl full of popcorn!

I heartily suggest you read, or listen to this book. Terry is working on a sequel, and I wish him luck with that. Good job, Terry!

See the previous post for the cheat sheet! Our system is British-based, but not so dissimilar that you wouldn't not get the jokes! I had fun teaching during the various elections. The students really got into the topics. Here are our bulletin boards photos.

Words from Terry, "I can honestly say that the most gratifying part of this amazing adventure, has been the opportunity to hear from readers who have found the novel to be worth their money to buy it, worth their time to read it, and worth their breath to recommend it. When all is said and done, having satisfied readers is what it’s all about. As well, I can report that over a year later, I still haven’t recovered from the Leacock shock. The sequel to TBLP, tentatively entitled The High Road, is about two-thirds written. I’m writing away and hope to have the manuscript done by mid fall. Thanks again for reviewing TBLP."

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@Barrie Summy


Barrie said...

I absolutely must read this! And friend him on FaceBook. ;)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think I'd need to read a non-humorous book on CA politics first to get the jokes.

Jenn Jilks said...

It's true, to a certain extent, Patti! But we could do you a cheat sheet! The politicking, however, is quite the same.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

What a great review! I particularly liked the line,

"You know that satire is based on more than a kernel of truth. It is based on a whole bowl full of popcorn!" :)

While I have no doubt that it is hilarious and well-written, I have to agree with pattinase...not sure I'd get the jokes. (Maybe though...I got the soapbox one! :) )

Kathy Holmes said...

I doubt I would get the jokes either but I love his publishing story. Having self-published, myself, I also know the pitfalls of that and while it was a good experience, I probably won't do it again. But I love to hear self-pubbed success stories.

Sarah Laurence said...

What a wonderful success story – so unusual in self-publishing. I admire you too for working hard to get your book out there.