by Terry Fallis $22.95
McClelland & Stewart Pub.
I constantly search for stories told in a humorous way; the last such book, reviewed here happens to have been written by Terry Fallis. And here we are again! Is no one else in Canada writing humour?
The Best Laid Plans by this author was about the reluctant Liberal who ran for Parliament in the West and won, though he was assured he would lose.
Then came Up and Down, in which a contest was held across Canada and the U.S. to choose two candidates, one from each country to go into space.
Both of these books were an oasis in the desert of light-hearted reading. Often there is a tendency for “funny” books to rely on smut and rudeness.
Now we have No Relation. It is the story of a wanna-be writer who has the unfortunate name of Earnest Hemmingway, and as if that isn’t enough of a handicap, he is also “blocked” at Chapter 12 of his novel.
As if that isn’t enough for one guy to live with, he loses his wallet on the Subway, and then gets fired from his job. How difficult would it be, do you imagine, to attain a new driver’s licence in the name of Earnest Hemmingway, when you have no ID? And did I tell you that his girlfriend has just left him?
The saving grace here is that our hero (known to his friends as “Hem”) receives a generous severance from his company. Hem has in fact always been reasonably flush because daddy owns “Hemmingwear,” a large manufacturer of men’s underwear. The company has been in the family for several generations, Hem’s father is Earnest Hemmingway the third, referred to here as EM3 and, our hero is EM4. It is expected that he will one day join the company, an idea extremely unappealing to Hem.
So how do you live with such a name, even if it is spelled differently than the other Ernest Hemingway?
He’s heard every joke in the book. Could there be, he wonders, other people in New York City suffering as he does; someone else bearing the name of someone famous?
He advertises, and finds 10 new friends all at the mercy of their monikers. Together they stir things up nicely.
It has to be said that these books are all written in the first person, and the narrators, though named differently, bear a striking resemblance to each other. Could they really be Terry Fallis, himself? It doesn’t really matter, just read and enjoy.
For his labours, Terry Fallis has been a finalist twice for the Stephen Leacock Award for humour, and then he won the Stephen Leacock Award for The Best Laid Plans.
This sort of book is absolutely guaranteed to have a happy ending. Hem gets the girl and the driver’s licence along with nine zany friends with some very famous names.
Peggy Freeman is a local freelance books reviewer.