Fred Litwin, a good friend, is a highly intelligent, ambitious, capable and successful Ottawa businessman. He is, as well, a book worm, a news hound, a partisan political activist and a man of integrity with an open mind and an eye for the patently ridiculous. Having said all that, it's a bit of a curiosity that Litwin -- author of the 2015 Conservative Confidential: Inside the Fabulous Blue Tent -- didn't find his way a lot sooner into the amazing turquoise gazebo of the conservative movement. After all, he was coming from the very middle of the absurdly irrational and tottery liberal red pergola.
Sunday, 20 November 2016
Thursday, 15 September 2016
Ultraconservative and super-rational pundit Ann Coulter finished her ninth blockbuster -- In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! -- in time to boost Donald Trump's dipping presidential campaign, the one where he alone has been focussing on immigration problems and solutions, the most pressing issues facing America. She turns a phosphorescent spotlight back onto the Republican, Democratic and media culprits who are helping to destroy America. I know, the claim is extremely harsh, but the brilliant and hilarious Coulter proves her devastating declarations again and again, using her trademark writing tactics: authentic statistics and facts, humour through obvious sarcasm, humour through clear exaggeration, and detailed footnotes, lots of footnotes.
Friday, 26 August 2016
I am convinced the goal of most solemn poems is to remind the reader that a hollow, perpetual depression is lurking just underneath the surface of everyday feelings. Joy is fleeting. True happiness is an illusion for all but children. Contentedness is only for those who don't think too deeply. Those are my thoughts after reading and rereading the 35 poems in My Shoes are Killing Me, the most recent book by award-winning Canadian writer Robyn Sarah. If I am right, then, ironically, Sarah triumphs with My Shoes -- the only book of hers I have ever read -- by igniting especially despondent feelings, the ones rational people presumably spend much of their lives running from. Good work Robyn, you've ruined my day.
Tuesday, 2 August 2016
Though it may seem an odd choice for this summer's reading, President Ronald Reagan's autobiography -- Am American Life -- contrasts nicely with the chaotic fracas that is US election year 2016. Written in 1990, only two years after he left office, the overall book -- which is 748 pages, though I read it on Kindle -- especially with respect to his profound challenges as a child and a young man, grips the soul and amazes the mind. But it also leaves the reader with a melancholy sense of emptiness, a desolate feeling of dejection and longing. It was sad to regularly look up from the Kindle, stare off into space and remember that those incredible political days are long over. Reagan's near destruction of liberalism seems like a century ago.
Wednesday, 15 June 2016
What's So Funny?: Lessons from Canada's Leacock Medal for Humour Writing, by Dick Bourgeois Doyle AND Stephen Leacock: Selected and Introduced by Robertson Davies, by Stephen Leacock
Have you ever wondered about the first 67 winners of Canada's Stephen Leacock Award for Humour? Me neither. Until, that is, I was presented with a delightful book on this very subject -- What's So Funny?:Lessons from Canada's Leacock Medal for Humour Writing -- written by Dick Bourgeois-Doyle. Don't be put off by his Victorian-inspired name. He is really quite down to earth. And he is an expert on, among other subjects, the history of science and creativity in Canada. Besides writing quite prolifically -- "contributing to many books, articles, TV features and radio programs," as his biographical sketch states on page 253 -- Bourgeois-Doyle works full time in the federal government. He is currently the Secretary General of the National Research Council of Canada.
You are probably wondering how an elevated public servant -- he was at one time chief of staff and director of communications to the minister of science and technology -- has managed to pull off such time-consuming extra-curricular publication feats. I know it was my first question when I met the author at a summer evening event at Carleton University's MacOdrum Library in 2015. Though the event was forgettable, his answer was not. It was actually his wife who replied, and I paraphrase: "People always ask this. He never uses government time for his outside activities. He is up late every night, writes all weekend and he is very organized and efficient at using his time."