The Original Canadian City Dweller's Almanac by Hal Niedzviecki and Darren Wershler-Henry (Viking), 224 pages, $25 paper. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
admit it. almost all of you have a stash of reading materials handy in the can. So get your hands on The Original Canadian City Dweller's Almanac, because it's a cool book for bathroom browsing. And I mean that in a good way. Broken Pencil co-founder and novelist Hal Niedzviecki collaborates with Coach House writer and editor Darren Wershler-Henry on this trove of small facts, anecdotes and opinions designed to lead readers through our urban jungles. The beauty of it is that it takes the piss out of some of our sacred assumptions and yet remains loving and hilarious at the same time.
Covering everything from transportation, food, drugs and partying to history, art and politics, the boys weigh in with their opinions on all of the above, supported by charts, lists and graphics designed to emphasize their points. My favourites include comics by Seth and Matt as well as a catalogue of Common Exit Plays For Poetry Readings designed like football plays (clue: the toilet figures prominently).
And don't miss the chart comparing Vancouver's claim to world-class status to those of New York, Paris and London. Under the category Major Historical Event, the authors cite the Wall Street crash for New York, the storming of the Bastille for Paris and the Great Fire for London. For Vancouver? Doug and the Slugs record their first album.
As in any almanac, a calendar functions as the centrepiece, and it's laced with funny facts, famous birthdays and some real and necessary factoids. But mostly, the historical content is of the "1066 And All That" variety.
This is not a Toronto-centred book. Here, Winnipeg matters, too, and there's even material on how to appreciate Fredericton.
It may not be cutting-edge in a year, but now it's very alt and very smart.Write Books at email@example.com