A look at the cover quotations on Up and Down by Leacock Medal winner, Terry Fallis, will give the reader a good idea of just how far this author has traveled since he first self-published The Best Laid Plans and, on a whim, submitted it for the Leacock contest. Members of Parliament and highly regarded authors and newspaper people line up praising all three of Fallis’ books, but I like MP Marc Garneau’s comment best– “A rollicking good ride.” Seems fitting for Canada’s first astronaut.
Marketer David Stewart is charged with running a contest to find a Canadian to go up on the next NASA trip into space. The choosing of this Canadian person, and the American civilian, gives rise to plot twists and another lovable, admirable character. Fallis takes the good, the bad, and the ugly and manages to make the good great, the bad go away, and the ugly metamorphose, all the while eliciting enough chuckles and guffaws to push the readers’ quiet Canadian stereotype to the back of the bus. And maybe out the emergency door!
Once again Fallis deftly weaves plot lines to make an engaging story. David’s mother is dying, he is the new man at his marketing firm, the Canadian chosen to fly is amazing but loaded with her own story snags, the big US boss of David’s company has his dark underbelly, and the golden boy winner from the States is a wee bit tarnished. Oh, and there’s a love story growing as surely as that shuttle is going to fly with two winners of the contest.
As its course is being set, the book is a little uneventful but soon enough, the reader is rewarded for keeping the pages turning. In order not to give away the plot, I cannot tell details of the wonderfully drawn character whom I came to love and respect and who carried the novel. In our world of heroes crashing like dominoes, discovering upright, honest, yet quirky characters refreshes the soul.
And this is the strength of Fallis’ writing. He is not afraid to draw heroes or to supply happy endings. His books are therapeutic with their humour and their real people whom we can admire. We have a section of Ontario’s Highway 401 dedicated to fallen soldiers–the Highway of Heroes. Military planes bringing these heroes home land east of Toronto and the fallen are transferred to Toronto. All along the highway bridges overhead and both shoulders of the road are dotted with fire fighters and their trucks, police officers and their units, and thousands of ordinary citizens paying tribute. There is no marshalling. All just come and the world stops for a minute to do what’s right.
Terry Fallis would do that. And so would his main characters. Of course they would all be having a few chuckles along the way.
Who is your favorite satirical writer? Do you start to see the character of the author once you’ve read a few of his/her books? Consider leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts.
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