Poles Apart Praise

The release of a new Terry Fallis novel is like opening of a new Steven Spielberg film or a theatre comedy that I've been anticipating all season.  That's why I was first in line to buy Poles Apart when it was released last week.

I consider Terry a friend, though we've never met.  We communicate in the Facebook world where we got connected a number of years ago.  I'm guessing that I sent a friend request after reading The Best Laid Plans or The High Road; I can't remember which.  As I've been on this painting journey, Terry has been generous with his praise and encouraging in his words.

Social media, in some cases, allows us to reach out to those who inspire us and share our appreciation.  After laughing out loud with the first few novels, and being delighted by the two that followed (No Relation and Up and Down), I've had the good fortune to connect with Terry and express my thanks, several times. Earlier this year, I was able to express my thanks in a different way, by painting his portrait.

I like to read, but I'm a terrible reader.  There is a stack of magazines, unfinished novels and non-fiction titles on my bedside table that is quickly becoming a safety hazard.  You see I tend to read just before falling asleep at the end of the day.  The problem is that I'm often so tired, that I only chew into a couple of pages and it's lights out.  That has not been the case with Poles Apart.

Terry has a way of bringing me into his worlds with lightening speed that makes me not want to leave.  In the case of Poles Apart, young Everett, a freelance writer, is called into service by his corporately successful mother to move down to Florida to care for her ex-husband (his father) who has had a major stroke.  Writers can write pretty much anywhere, while CEOs need to stay relatively close to headquarters.

At the rehabilitation centre, Everett meets Beverley, a mover and shaker from the feminist movement of three and a half decades earlier.  She helps rekindle his true passion for fighting for gender equality which leads to the creation of a feminist blog written under the cloak of anonymity that explodes.  Toss in a stripper's pole, a make-up artist disguised as a bouncer, several romantic sub plots, and Poles Apart had me entertained from cover to cover.

I think that Terry's writing style is funny.  It's also accessible, crafted to provide a great experience for the reader.  I was having a devil of a time trying to sleep the other night.  But, it gave me an excuse to get up, sit in the soft light of the living room and feast on many pages of Poles Apart.

Like his previous four novels, there is an element in this story that brought me perilously close to tears, right near the end.  My brain was going in a completely different direction at the time, as I thought the evil protagonist was going to be the long lost son the the family-ripped-apart thread of the story.  I was wrong, and was unprepared for the emotional catharsis when that seam finally unravelled.

Poles Apart dives into an academically challenging subject area without the pretensions and pitfalls that normally accompany an attempt of this sort.  His characters are memorable and loveable, except for the bad guy of course, who we love to hate.  If you're looking for something to read that will provide a delightful escape filled with giggles, chortles, laughs and a mild sprinkling of tears, look no further than Poles Apart.

Terry Fallis has grown to become my favourite Canadian novelist, and a favourite in the family.  My wife has been waiting for me to finish so she can dive in, too.


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