Friday, May 23, 2008

Garry's Review: King Leary

Okay, so I'm not even going to attempt to write as much or as well as Dave, but I'll give my two cents.

King Leary
by Paul Quarrington

I read this book with two things in mind: first, its title clearly alludes to Shakespeare, and second, the cover of my edition boasts of the book's win of the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. I was thus looking for a Shakespearean comedy to follow. I was mistaken, I believe, for a number of reasons, the least of which being that King Lear was not a comedy.
The allusion to King Lear can be found in the delusion and obliviousness of the lead character. By the end of the book the ghosts of his past are as real as the living characters, but I am not even sure why they are haunting him. I think Quarrington tried to convey that Leary's biggest faults in life were a) letting Manny drink himself to death and b) blaming Clarence for the end of his hockey career. Neither of these revelations are funny moments, nor is the fact that he never loved his wife and married her for some unknown reason - possibly because she showed him her "bubbies".

I did not find this book funny, but sad. Quarrington's novel actually exemplifies the isolation of the aging population and that old people are most often portrayed as something to laugh at.

My six word review: Read Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler


Hutton said...

Nice review Gar. I thought about the 'King Lear' parallels for about three minutes in the shower one day but couldn't come up with much. I guess it's Leary's misjudgment of his son that leads to his downfall, like King Lear -- the toy-tripping incident and the inability of Leary to accept his son's sexuality combine in a kind of bizarre way to Leary's downfall. Clay Clinton plays a good fool as well.

It's also certainly a tragedy in the classic sense, even though it's remarkably funny. But I might be pushing it.

In other news, in honour of Leary I'm going to visit the hockey hall of fame this weekend. I'll let you know if I see any ghosts.

Garry said...

Well, when you mention the misjudgment and downfall, it does seem a little more like King Lear - certainly there were some funny moments in King Lear and in King Leary, but I wouldn't categorize either as comedy. How was the Hockey Hall of Fame? Is there a model for King Leary in there?