Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Travels in Search of Canada by Will Ferguson

Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Travels in Search of Canada
Will Ferguson
(Alfred A. Knopf Canada, Toronto: 2004)

This edition includes "bonus" material, including a tongue-in-cheek "cheat sheet" for students, "outtakes", various suggested cover designs, and a list of Canada’s "big objects by the side of the road."

READ: May 2007

I've mentioned this before (twice, actually): Will Ferguson is a funny, funny man. And with the intriguing title of this book, which I'd picked up in Canada before leaving for Japan but had made myself wait many months before allowing myself to read it, I was expecting more belly laughs.

And boy, did it deliver! Ferguson spent a few years traveling back and forth, here and there, across Canada, and the result is a series of short stories about strange happenings while on the road. He peppers these humourous stories with a good dose of history - not enough to choke those who always fell asleep during Canadian history class in high school, and just obscure enough to keep those Canadian history keeners (myself included) listening and curious. He goes everywhere: Victoria, B.C., for a poetry slam; Churchill, Man., looking for polar bears; Saguenay-Lac St. Jean, Que., to find a lost kingdom; and even St. Thomas, Ont., just outside London, in search of "Canada". It's always interesting, often funny, and never pedantic. This is the kind of literature I wish we'd read more of in my Canadian literature classes. For starters, I don't think he mentions the name "Susanna Moodie" even once (though I think he does talk a bit about Catherine Parr Trail) - kudos all around right there.

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