This Book is a Cookbook, How Do You Explain That?

Religious peoples and people who get elected to their jobs always take the world deadly serious. They never guess that by being so serious they make most people laugh at them.

Silas Ermineskin

in

W.P. Kinsella’s The Fencepost Chronicles

W.P. Kinsella is one of my favourite authors. I have read a number of his works and enjoyed every single one.  I am just finishing The Fencepost Chronicles and the mixture of wit, satire, and magic is a perfect way to spend a few hours.  He has a way of taking ordinary situations and transforming them into mystical and unbelievable stories.  He makes a really good point in the quote above through the guise of an Alberta Cree writer who observes a fundamentalist Christian book burning.  That particular story (one of 13 in the book) satirizes both religious fanatics and politicians, but in a very endearing manner. Indeed, the entire book reflects a worldview that is slightly askew from the ordinary: a 400lb medicine woman takes over as goalie and covers the entire net, two fish-out-of–water natives have a late night chat with the queen in Buckingham Palace, spending a night inside a caribou on a cultural exchange, and a host of other hilarious and outlandish stories.  Obviously, I am quite fond of this book and would recommend checking it out (most likely at your local library since it was first published in 1986).

The Fencepost Chronicles paints Canadian politicians and their religious counterparts as too serious and proud.  Of course it is intended to be satirical but it is also sincere.  It leads me to a question, would the world be a better place if “important” people didn’t take it so seriously.  On one hand, having doctors, social workers, and even politicians focusing their attention on social problems in a serious manner is important. On the other, by getting worked up about many things they probably exaserbate otherwise harmless situations.  I have to admit that I often get worked up about trivial items, and even sometimes take myself way too seriously to the point of heightening my sense of self-importance. Most of life is ridiculous and hilarious.  If I lived my life like the characters in The Fencepost Chronicles I’d have an eternal smile. Of course I would also be a career petty criminal and an alcoholic.  Probably not worth the trade. My point today is that the world needs more laughter and magic.

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