Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw

by Will Ferguson

review by John W. Herbert
Will Ferguson is a very funny guy.
Wait, scratch that. I assume he’s a funny guy — I really don’t know Will Ferguson from Adam.
Okay, scratch that, too. I know Adam and he is a funny guy. And so is Will Ferguson (I assume).
But they aren’t the same guy.
Or are they?
Now that I think about it, I’ve never seen them both in the same place. In fact, I’ve never seen Will Ferguson anywhere. Could it be that they really are the same guy? Have I inadvertantly stumbled on the biggest conspiracy since Stephen Harper’s brain was stolen by aliens?
Sorry. Let me start again.
Will Ferguson may be a very funny guy. But without question, he is a very funny writer. It’s not by accident that he’s won the Leacock Medal for Humour. (Then again, it might well have been an accident. But no one’s admitting anything.)
Which brings me in a surprisingly roundabout way to his recent book Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw, a time-jumbled travelogue across Canada. He starts at a poetry slam here in Victoria, and meanders from West to East, ending in L’anse Aux Meadows, the home of the first Norse settlement in North America. On the way, he retraces his youth in the high North, looks for polar bears near Churchill, tries to find the meaning of Canada with his brother, tries to find the meaning of Quebec with another brother, and even attempts to find the meanings in that strange variation of english that is spoken in Newfoundland.
Ferguson is always funny. (Anyone who rates a book about Canadian Prime Ministers called Bastards and Boneheads gets an ‘A’ in my book.) And this book is warm and witty embrace of Canadiana, a wonderfully written journey exploring the backwaters and backstreets.
A great read.

originally published in Under the Ozone Hole #18

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