I went into this book really wanting to like it. Wanting to love it in fact. (I go into every book like that – why would I not want to like a book?) Surprisingly, I had never read any Leacock before but it was always one of those things I was going to get to eventually. I mean, it’s Stephen Leacock – the funniest thing that happened to Canada (at the turn of the last Century), right? People are always singing his praises.
This is the truth: I couldn’t stand Literary Lapses and I couldn’t finish it. I feel like I am going to get into trouble for admitting that – kicked out of the Can Lit club? I read most of it but when I started to get really annoyed I skipped around and read random stories searching for whatever it is that makes him so loved. Maybe I was in the wrong mindset at the time but I found it more irritating than funny. Maybe this is why:
Although frequently unfaithful to his credo that humour be kindly – he was at times racist, anti-feminist and downright ornery – the unique alchemy of compassion and caustic wit remain the elements which accord his humour a timelessness few Canadian writers have achieved. (via)
I didn’t find much compassion in these particular stories and I didn’t find them timeless – I thought they were rather dated. I remember reading My Financial Career – the story of a man who is so nervous opening a bank account that he closes it right away and never steps foot in another bank – and finding it silly and sad, but not laughable. His tongue-in-cheek advice pieces like How To Make a Million Dollars, How to Live to 200 and How to Avoid Getting Married I found downright painful to have to read.
Perhaps I will revisit this book again at a later date. Maybe. Still, I’m keeping an open mind about Leacock – I have to, there are three more titles of his to go in the New Canadian Library before I even hit the 30 book mark.
Death Toll: I’m not even sure since I couldn’t finish. I’m interest died early.