Friends in High Places: Politics and Patronage in the Mulroney Government

by Claire Hoy
357 pages,
ISBN: 1550130471

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The subtitle of this book is "Politics and Patronage in the Mulroney Government." What a juicy subject. As a journalist, Hoy is known for invective and diatribe, aimed particularly at feminists, pinkos, and gays. Will he flay Brian with the same lash? Yes. And will the result be a rip-snorting read? No.
In short bursts Hoy can dish the dirt with the best, but to sustain the reader's attention through a long volume requires more than nose-thumbing and nastiness. It requires wit, or tempo, or graceful style, or at least a message if not a thesis - none of which are to be found here. That Mulroney and the squalid record of his government invite, even cry out for, abuse is beyond doubt, but why use dynamite merely to frighten the squirrels?
Determined political junkies will find that Hoy gets off a few good lines (Mils as "Imelda Two") and maybe a handful of anecdotes (the "Manicouagan Fuck-You Call" is diverting), yet somehow a rough heaviness persists. It is not just a feeling of overkill, but a numbing sense of having read most of it before in other books or in the daily papers. Unlike Fotheringham's Look, Ma, No Hands or Grafton's new So, What Are the Boys Saying?, there's little joy or fun in Hoy; unlike Ron Graham's One-.Eyed Kings or Charles Taylor's thoughtful Radical Tories, there is no analytic framework or argument. By about page 200 I found myself muttering: "Oh, please, don't just drag us through another petty and sordid scandal on the next page." Worse luck. He does.
The relentless hammering in the book finally left me with the sense of having ploughed through 357 pages of Sun cartoon, never mind a Sunshine Girl. Too long. Too bitter. Too bad.

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