Wednesday, April 18, 2012

“Looking Blackward”

By Arthur Black
ISBN No. 978-1-55017-590-5

Yes, yes, the title is a groaner – but then the author has a lot to groan about: bad tattoos, frivolous lawsuits, and crimes of fashion. That he’s basically complaining about the bad habits of the big cities from the safe distance of Salt Spring Island is probably the most hilarious thing about the book.
If you enjoyed Black on CBC’s “Basic Black” then you know what to expect with “Looking Blackward”: a bit of history, a bit of humour, an affectionate hair tousle of all the stupid Canadians and ex-pats who inspired such chapters as “Internet: You Get What You Pay For”, “The Hundred-Mile Diet. Not” and “Spread Your Tiny Wings” (in which Black says he’s “sexually intimidated by Newfoundland – it’s on page 71 for anyone reading this on a mobile device in a Chapters bookstore). Some of the book is very funny (the first chapter is about using newspapers as gardening tarp); other parts a strrrretch of context (Black compares the business suit to a cockroach. Oo-kay…). It’s an enjoyable book: witty, smart, thoughtful. Still, how you actually ENJOY the book may depend on HOW you read it. If you read it quickly its observations and indictments feel like manic stand-up comedy. Let your eyes take in each and every word and its gentle confessions and clever insights sound just like listening to late night CBC Radio.