Monday, May 19, 2008

Guest Blog--This House is Nuts! by Linwood Barclay

I am still trying to read some Canadian mysteries while visiting Toronto. At the Robarts Library, which is only a block away, I picked up a book by Linwood Barclay. He is currently taking time off from his job as an editor and columnist at the Toronto Star to promote his mystery books. Unfortunately, all of his mysteries at the University of Toronto are housed at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library which does not actually allow anyone to check books out.

Instead, I picked up his book This House is Nuts! When I checked it out on Amazon, I discovered that there was one critique of the book, and the reader from Boston commented that she had read his column for years and did not think he was funny. Despite this, she read his book and apparently still did not think he was funny. After finishing the book, I have realized that he and his family travel to Boston several times in the book. Could this disparaging individual be a relative?

Whatever the case, I was not discouraged by the negative review and read the book and spent quite a bit of time laughing out loud. Some chapters were not so funny, but others captured parenthood and marriage so acurately that I recognized those feelings and wished I had the ability to record them so well.

He starts the book by telling this story: "...our friend Leslie was in a bookstore in Owen Sound, Ontario, when she spotted my first book, 'Father Knows Zilch: A Guide for Dumbfounded Dads,' on the shelf. She showed my photo on the back cover to her young daughter Sarah and infant son Jack and said: 'Look, there's Spencer's and Paige's daddy.'

"A woman standing next to her turned and said, 'Your kids actually KNOW Spencer and Paige? I read about them all the time in the paper in that man's column, and I always thought they were fictional.'"

Whether they are real or not, Barclay certainly paints a lovely picture of family life and marriage. I came away wishing I had tucked my own children in more often at night and had laughed at my mistakes a little more often. Although some of it feels dated, most of it is just good fun. Who hasn't fallen asleep in front of the TV or talked to friends on the doorstep for half an hour before letting them leave to go home? Or refereed a territorial dispute in the back seat? Something in the book will hit your funny bone.

No comments: