by George Kaufman
BETWEEN the bleak economic news and the even bleaker political news, Canadians have been desperately casting about for some good laughs to take their minds off things for a while. One of the best ways to snag a few real chuckles is to pick up a copy of How To Be Not Too Bad (McClelland & Stewart, 248 pages, $24.99 cloth). Wryly subtitled A Canadian Guide to Superior Behaviour, Charles Gordon`s book gives us what we cannot get from Dave Barry or Jerry Seinfeld, even on their best days: good, truly Canadian humour.
Gordon is at his best when he puts some bite in his laughs, as when, predicting the future, he envisions "two airlines, owned by the Japanese companies Ford and Disney." Or:
The Information Age has given us the computer, which enables us to be ruder and stupider at much greater speed and to many more people at a single time than at any other time in human history. With just a few keystrokes we can send insulting messages to thousands of people at the same time or tell them that their jobs have been taken away, moved to a non-union town or handed over to robots.
Even the sections without such an edge are reasonably amusing, and Gordon`s style breaks things down into easily digestible portions. One of his greatest charms, though, is that he is resolutely politically incorrect. During a summer in which our only comic relief appears to be Kim Campbell, pick this book up and enjoy it before it`s too late.