BIFB Side Project: August, Terry Fallis, The High Road


                               Welcome to Parliament

“She said something about the high road still having gutters…Not sure what that means.”

The problem with The High Road is it sets my hopes too, well, high. I may dare dream for my own Angus to support come fall 2015, but I know I’ll be harshly disappointed next election. The injustice, the lying, the smug looks, the mudslinging – as much as I want to do my civic duty and vote knowledgably, it’s a struggle to get through a debate.

I’m sure a lot of Canadians (and…everyone in the world?) feel this way. Terry Fallis knows it – his fictional campaign is set in our modern electoral climate and politicians are lower on the trust totem pole than used car sales people. Which is of course why Angus is so refreshing. The lovably gruff Scotsman with the non-partisan do-what’s-right attitude and the hovercraft – he’s a winner.

This book is the follow-up to the rather successful debut from Fallis, The Best Laid Plans, in which Liberal candidate Angus and his campaign manager Daniel have every expectation of losing and avoiding politics, when their shoo-in Conservative opponent is found in a sex den, or something. Admittedly I’m a bit foggy on the details as I read the original book ages ago, but I believe lots of leather and whips were involved.

Anyway, once Angus is an MP he successfully brings down the government during a sneaky snowstorm vote, setting off another election, which is where The High Road picks up. Election round two, versus notorious Tory strategist Emerson “Flamethrower” Fox. As you may gather from the title, Angus chooses to take the high road in the hard-fought battle against an opponent known for nasty attacks.

While I’m sure people like Angus exist, and I even believe they could get roped into running and accidentally elected and find they enjoy it and go again, I have very little faith in my fellow citizens that the honest and honourable persona would trump the negative campaigning. Sorry Canadians – prove me wrong at the first opportunity.

Reading The High Road was like living in a brief political utopia (although admittedly too optimistic as times…just leave Fox as the bad guy, no way he’d come around). The whole team behind Angus is admirable. Former candidate/seniors co-ordinator Muriel is a feisty and principled woman, and the two Petes who run the volunteers would never be able to convince a hardcore Conservative riding to swing red in their punk regalia but whatever I loved them anyway. My only complaint is Muriel’s granddaughter who also happens to be Daniel’s girlfriend comes across a little bland. She was always rushing off to class, sleeping or picking up things at Kinkos. Not much dialogue. I feel like she could be cooler.

The election wraps up about halfway through the book (spoiler: the good guys win! With help from an AMAZING squad of seniors who were maybe the best part of everything) leaving me wondering what could possibly fill the rest, but a collapsed bridge and visit from the U.S. president provide enough commotion to carry the story through the end. All in all, it’s an entertaining tale that leaves you wishing for more from reality.

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