Completed: 28 August 2010
One Leacock leads to another. In this case a winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour in 1983. One of my reading projects is to read all of the Leacock Medal winners. I’m always up for a good laugh and a panel of experts have deemed these books as funny. Who am I to argue with the experts. The Leacock Medal began in 1947 and with one exception (1958) have assigned a winner every year since. I can’t claim to have read all of the winners, yet. In general though they are pretty good selections and at least bring a smile to my face. Occasionally I’m left puzzled as to why a selection was made as it doesn’t seem remotely funny. Roch Carrier’s Prayers of a Very Wise Child comes to mind. This was not the case with Maximilian Glick.
The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick was Torgov’s second Leacock Medal winner (A Good Place to Come From was the first). Maximilian, the long awaited new-born son to the Glick clan doesn’t stand a chance. Between his parents, grand-parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, rabbis, and assorted teachers and well-wishers, his entire future is debated and planned, with nary any input or concern as to what Max himself might like. In a chaotic world, Max is the serious one and he does have plans.
For me the book highlighted, in a humourous way, the foibles of an extended family. Everyone is into everyone’s business. It can be a bit daunting but it is also a source of great strength. What really struck me though was how the community ultimately supported its members. The flip side of that support was that it was also a constraint. The individual was part of the community as long as they stayed within the communities rules. Those who challenged the rules or went their own way were cast out and cut off. They were as one dead. Max has to confront this aspect of community. Torgov does a very good job of presenting the positives and negatives in a light handed way. No judgements are made about what is proper choice.
As the dust jacket says: “this funny, affectionate, and wise tale …deals with that very special territory where the boundary between what we are and what we dream of becoming is almost invisible.”