Liam Gulliver – more often called “Gully” – is in a bit of a pickle at the start of the book. He’s just been fired from his cousin Michael’s brokerage firm (though Michael insists he’s only asking Gully to resign, he’s asking pretty forcefully), and his marriage to his wife, Minnie, is on the rocks. He’s had to go from being a stockbroker to driving a cab to make ends meet, and even working with his son to create a water-export company can’t quite save him. However, even divorce can’t keep him from being involved in the business and the subsequent tumult it creates in Canada. He winds up on friendly terms with John Boxer, a lawyer representing a rival water-export company, and thus finds himself in the unique position of having insight into both as they duke it out in court.
I could say what follows is an amusing rabbit hole complete with a Kafkaesque trial scene, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. That’s not because I found the book unamusing – I chuckled throughout it – but because the humor starts even before the story begins. I occasionally skim through forewords and author introductions, but I’m glad I didn’t this time. Both are short and, if not sweet, at least filled with the sort of dry humor that fills the rest of the book. I even enjoyed Gully’s meandering thoughts into the past and into the pasts of his family. They provided key insights into the characters and expanded the book’s world. Interesting as Gully’s present is, I was fascinated by his past as well, not to mention the curious dynamic of his family.
I did have one complaint about the book, and oddly enough, it wasn’t the complaint the author addressed in his introduction. I actually rather liked the extended moments where Gully dwelt on the past before sharply shifting back to the future. That is, after all, how people think, and as I mentioned before, it enhanced my understanding of his family, particularly his second son, Bernie. (As a quick side note, I found Bernie’s subplot regarding his work as a priest just as interesting as the main plot and wish I could have seen more of it.) What came closest to turning me off from the book was that it felt like it was still a draft. Some of the sentences were rambling and redundant, repeating information the reader had learned a page or two before. While amusing, it lacked the polish I would want from a published book.
Whether you enjoy this book will depend on what you’re looking for. If you want a funny read,, pick it up; if typos bother you, look elsewhere.
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