Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How to be a Canadian by Will and Ian Ferguson

And now for something completely different. I want to catch up on my blog posts, so usually you would never see two posts from me this close, but hey! I can surprise people sometimes!

Well, that is the completely different I was talking about, I am actually talking about How to be a Canadian. It is hardly the typical Canadian fiction that we are expecting to blog about, but I had it on my shelf and thought it deserved a read.

To start with, this book has hilarious parts- I did laugh loudly on more than one occasion. It is just that it wasn’t that clever. I mean we can all laugh at hating Toronto, but I have heard before, not that new. Some jokes were witty inside jokes (you had to be Canadian to get), which I appreciated, but most of those jokes were pretty dated. And when your book is only 8 years old, being dated isn’t a good thing. I know humour gets old quicker than other genres (don’t get me started on Sunshine Sketches of a Small Town) but I wanted a little more- and a little less stereotypes that have been overdone.

Now, I have to admit, some of these typical Canadian things- I do! I didn’t even know they were typical Canadian things until I read the book. So it has some merit and truth to it. I also think it is hilarious how much they hated York University. Now I lived in Toronto for only 2 years before returning West, but that was long enough to get a million York jokes thrown at me and it was funny to read about them. However, that is another worry of mine. There is definitely a “write what you know” feel to this book and while Ian and Will know a lot, they do tend to focus on what they know best. Like only talking about York University and missing most others.

Really, I would say my general observation is that the humour is pretty predictable. They make fun of hockey, politics and “eh”- nothing I didn’t see coming. So it makes you wonder, are Canadians just predictable people? Do we produce predictable humour, but also predictable literature? My last post about Thomas Wharton would say otherwise. But besides The Logogryph there is a fairly tame feeling to Can Lit. Though I hope if I keep reading I will prove this to be untrue. I bet Katy will disagree with me as well. I just need to find the gems!

So in conclusion, funny, but not the most hilarious book I have read. Not by far and mostly because it is so predictable.

Next (I will admit) I am taking a break from Can Lit to read Julie & Julia by Julie Powell- though not Canadian in any way, it is about cooking, so I think I will post about Canadian cook books, which are fabulous! Something different for you all to look forward to!



  1. I'm surprised that you didn't sympathize with the Ferguson brothers more!

    They're northern Albertans who moved to Toronto, just like you.

  2. Yes, but I am far more hilarious than they are!