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Allan Fotheringham.
Illustrations by Roy Peterson.

Toronto, Key Porter Books, c1983.
206pp, cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-919493-18-1.

Reviewed by Chris Kempling.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

Those familiar with the ascerbic wit and stiletto pen of the famous Dr. Foth will find no surprises in his newest volume of political satire. Whereas his penultimate book, Malice in Blunderland* used Lewis Carroll's piece as thematic underlay, Look Ma uses The Wizard of Oz as its tone setter. A rather clever title page illustration by Ray Peterson depicts Fotheringham as Dorothy (with ringlets nestling all three chins), Diefenbacker, with his grizzled locks, as the cowardly lion, Stan-field as the emotionless tin man, Joe Clark, suitably cast as the scarecrow seeking a brain, and Brian Mukoney as the scrappy, energetic Toto.

Reading Look Ma is like having a front row seat at the particularly horrible torture depicted in the movie Sand Pebbles: the death of a thousand cuts. One wishes Steve McQueen would appear to put the hapless Conservative coolie out of his misery. Dr. Foth is unforgiving with his lancet, puncturing each boil-like blunder of the PCs so as to assure the maximum pain. Yet, one feels that the physician-sage believes his bloodletting will have some purgative effect, and at the end of said treatment, the Conservatives will come to their senses, abandon their habit of self-immolation and with it their role as sole proprietors of Her Majesty's opposition.

Fotheringham has obviously done his research in his exploration of the tombs of Torydom. Unlike most grave robbers, however, he has left the valuables and taken the most putrefied samples of Tory ineptitude he could find. One should not read Look Ma hoping to find a balanced view of Canadian political history.

Fotheringham's skills as a political satirist do not translate well to book length compilations. Overkill is, perhaps, the most tiresome feature of Look Ma. Although the body expires from its torments by page 100, Fotheringham continues to administer indignities to the corpse for an additional hundred pages. He tends to repeat his metaphors (Joe Clark falling on his sword) and to wander off topic to skewer an occasional Socred or Liberal. Indeed, the book lacks real cohesion and seems to lack the order that timely reflection or revisions might bring. A certain amount of editorial polishing would definitely improve the volume.

Nevertheless, one cannot help but agree that the Tories, in their own inscrutable way, invite the many slings and arrows flung their way. It is rather unfortunate for them that the diminutive David facing them is as accurate and nasty as the inimitable Dr. Foth.

*Reviewed vol. XI/3 May 1983 p.116.

ChrisKempling, Quesnel, B.C..
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