Thursday, December 15, 2011

EASY TO LIKE by Edward Riche (2011) House of Anansi, 293 pages

I enjoyed the warp and wit of Riche's first novel RARE BIRDS, so was pleased to receive EASY TO LIKE which promised a satire of a C-list Hollywood screenwriter Elliot Johnson whose true vocation is becoming a beloved vintner, wine snob that he is. However, like Icarus, Elliot swoops too close to the sun (in his case an influential producer whose wife he refuses to bed), and, although not plummeting to his own death off the California coast, is banished to become a tony bureaucrat in, of all places, Toronto, where he is hired to be in charge of English television programming for the mothership, the CBC.

Although I was mildly interested in the vineyard details and the business of running one that produced a wine that is more than "easy to like," I found the satire skewering the national broadcaster mostly mean-spirited.

What began as a vaguely amusing, watery episode of ENTOURAGE with empty-headed, silicon-breasted femmebots who tweak their own nipples (and, no, I'm not making this up) turned into a ridiculous parody of entertainment programming that included a pitch for LES LES starring "Sri Lankan and South Korean dykes." Oh, and don't forget that his ex-wife leaves Elliot for their Hispanic housekeeper, their former child star son is serving time in prison and there's a zebra escaped from San Simeon, nibbling Elliot's best grapes. I haven't even told you about the worst scenes, involving sex "with crooked arthritic claws," the former t.v. host-turned-hermit living in the Rosedale Valley Ravine, or the rich man's fatal ass-over-teakettle fall from the balcony of the Park Hyatt.

Ironically, EASY TO LIKE was not easy to like. Though, with reference to Vaucluse and Chateaunneuf-du-Papes labels, it did remind me of a splendid holiday touring through the wine caves in the south of France. Riche also used two of my favourite words--"chuffed" and "petrichor--" and raised the specter of the Amazing Kreskin. Remember him?

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