Author: Johnston, Wayne
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Year Published: 1994
Subcategory: Fiction / Literary
Condition Rating: Slight wear, may have creased spine, folded pages, good-condition ownership stickers
Summary: Human Amusements
is the most eccentric of Wayne Johnston's novels, and it is a book that will likely surprise readers of his best-known work, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
. Rather than dwelling at length on approved Big Historical Issues, Johnston turns his consistently original sense of humour to satire and pop culture, resulting in a tale that is both thought-provoking and deliciously glib.
The heart of this novel is the hapless Prendergast family, an ill-starred trio who initially seem like the cast of an early, slightly twisted sitcom. Audrey and Peter Prendergast are substitute teachers, barely scraping by in the stolid Toronto of the late '50s. Peter wants to become a "serious novelist," while Audrey is a devoted writer of rejected television scripts. When Audrey's proposal for Rumpus Room, a children's program, makes it on air, she becomes an instant star--as does her son, Henry, who is cast as Bee Good/Bee Bad, the show's exemplary animal characters. Fame and family tensions take their toll on the Prendergasts, leading this once-TV-ready family into utter chaos.
Johnston treats his characters with a seemingly light touch, and Human Amusements sometimes feels like giddy fluff, but it is nothing of the sort. Few novels about the first generation of career women have treated their subject so delicately, or with such effortless complexity. Human Amusements is an exceptionally good book, one that is both riotously funny and melancholically humane. --Jack Illingworth
In Store Location: Bookcase 22 - General Fiction 1,