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Eric Nicol.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1983.
183pp, cloth, $17.95.
ISBN 0-7715-9783-5.

Reviewed by Jim Delaney.

Volume 12 Number 1
1984 January

Lately there have been a number of satires dealing with recent Canadian history, i.e., the last twenty years. Many have failed because of their pre-occupation with the rise and fall of Pierre Trudeau.

It is not hard to see why. The customary role of the satirist is to expose and to seek reform, but our PM's alleged failings have been so minutely documented in the daily press that further exposure is both redundant and tedious. Ideas for reform were pretty repetitive too, usually consisting of one: dump Trudeau.

In Canadide, Eric Nicol manages to avoid these pitfalls. He gives Trudeau scarcely a mention, and his relationship to his targets—the civil service, British-Columbia, bilingualism, western alienation—is more that of the stand-up comedian than that of the social reforming satirist. Nicol's book is full of memorable one-liners. On the Eskimo: "Nobody hates him except a few environmentalists who think walruses are cute." On Canadians: "A Canadian is an American with the spark plugs removed."

The story follows the exploits of a young journalist blessed with the perfectly bilingual name of Martin Richard. Richard is catapulted to a comfortable career in the civil service as a payoff for keeping his mouth shut about the extramarital activities of a federal cabinet minister. From then on he finds himself involved with a kaleidoscope of colourful characters from the '60s and '70s in incidents each more bizarre than the ones that preceded it.

Many of the characters and events are easily identifiable, but Nicol gives them a life, an energy, that the originals did not possess. Part of that energy comes, it should be said, from a rather raunchy sexuality that pervades much of the text.

Jim Delaney, Msgr. Pereyma School, Oshawa, ON.
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