Continuing the pattern of reviewing ‘nice guys that write great books’ that I’ve seemed to stumble upon, I decided to write about Terry Fallis’s latest book No Relation. This is Fallis’s fourth book, and just as good as his previous ones, so I’m glad I picked it up. It’s based on a really interesting premise: the main character is named Earnest Hemmingway, (spelled slightly differently than the Ernest Hemingway) who happens to be an aspiring writer as well. And, having just lost his job and girlfriend, he finds himself with lots of time to sit down and write that novel that he’s been struggling to complete for years, but he’s run into a severe case of writer’s block. On top of that, his overbearing father is pushing him to enter the family business (men’s underwear manufacturing) even though “Hem” can’t stand the idea of doing just that. So, he begins a support group for people with other famous names (Diana Ross, Clark Kent, etc.) in an attempt to find meaning in the curse that is his famous namesake. Not surprisingly, hilarity ensues.
I read this book while on vacation in Belize, and it was the perfect beach/summer read. If you’re not familiar with his writing already, Terry Fallis is a humour writer, he’s won the Stephen Leacock award as well as the CBC Canada Reads competition, and one of his books was turned into a television miniseries, so I’m not the only one who thinks highly of him. He’s got that light style of writing that makes you look forward to turning the page because you know you’re going to feel good, before and after reading the book. Similar to the novel I just previously reviewed by Alexander McCall Smith, No Relation deals with difficult subject matter, but it does it in a light-hearted way that will leave you feeling optimistic. Who doesn’t want that from a book, especially in July and August?
If I had to point out one aspect of Fallis’s books that need improvement, I would say he should challenge himself a bit more in his protagonist’s character development. All four of his books have featured a different main character, however they differ in name only. They’re pretty much the same person; male, in his thirties, looking for love, a bit of a bumbling ‘nice guy’, etc. That being said, this shouldn’t prevent you from picking any one of these books-they are all great, and really well written. But, I really do think Fallis is talented, and can easily create female characters with depth, so I’m hoping that his next book will feature a female protagonist. If I had a twitter account, I would tweet this at Fallis, because I know he’s active on social media, so I’ll just hope that he has a google alert set up for himself and will eventually read this blog post (fingers crossed!).