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Easy to Like (2011)

por Edward Riche

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2031,096,895 (2.8)1
Nominated for the BMO Winterset Award and the ReLit Award From award-winning author Edward Riche comes an immensely readable and sharp novel about "C"-list screenwriter and wannabe vintner Elliot Johnson. With his life growing more ruinous by the day -- his writing career is on the rocks, his struggling vineyard is being investigated by the feds, and his son, a former child star, is in prison -- Elliot decides to do what any self-respecting wine lover would do: escape to France. Alas, fate has other things in store. Stranded in Canada by an expired passport, he is strongly encouraged to remain there due to his bit part in a growing Hollywood scandal. Deciding that Toronto may just be the perfectly engineered city in which to lay low, Elliot kills time by bluffing his way to the top of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A brilliant work of searing satire, Easy to Like showcases one of our most original authors at his comic best.… (mais)
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It wasn't until the last few pages that I realized the title was ironic. Through the entire rest of the book I kept wondering why it was called Easy to like, since it was anything but. I couldn't figure out this book. The main character, Elliot, is a pretentious asshole, and there were pages and pages of exposition about wine, which made my eyes glaze over and skip many paragraphs. I found it interesting that thee was a Sideways reference, since the parallel was obvious, though there is something charming about Paul Giamatti's character in that film, maybe the fact that he is so self deprecating, while Elliot is unrelentingly self righteous. The reviews of this book call it "hilarious" and "savagely funny," but I couldn't see it at all. He makes fun of the CBC, and I suppose some of his observations may be wickedly accurate, but mostly they came off as painful. I couldn't tell if the message was pro-Canada or what. All in all there is very little "there" there, and I'm not happy I wasted a week on this thing. First review under 3 stars in a while. ( )
  karenchase | Jun 14, 2023 |
Is it better for the arts to be innovative or popular? It's the eternal question that every person who chooses to work in a creative profession must ask themselves, and this clever satire tackles this same question with unflinching honesty. Riche lambasts both Hollywood brain-dead spectacle and a public broadcaster's blind devotion to quality, socially-relevant television with equal zeal.

The story is told from the perspective of a Canadian-born screenwriter who has spent many years working in Hollywood, but is finding it harder and harder to find work, and the world of Hollywood's back room (and bedroom) games more difficult to negotiate. Then a series of minor personal crises strands him in the very place he doesn't want to be: the country of his birth. Unable to return to California until he has sorted out his affairs, he opts to take a job with the CBC (Canada's public broadcaster) and discovers that those who aspire to create "artistic television" aren't any better off.
  Gail.C.Bull | Apr 7, 2013 |
We don't expect young wine or inexpensive chocolate to deliver subtlety and nuance, and Edward Riche's novel Easy to Like (the title says it all) is a similar kind of light confection. Elliott Johnson, ex-pat Canadian, has been working in the Southern California entertainment industry for many years. At forty-nine he is divorced and living on his own, and his screenwriting career has pretty much bottomed out. He is no longer young, no longer hip, no longer in demand. His agent can't sell his latest project and producers who are half his age won't even meet with him. Good thing he has his winery to keep him busy, except that the winery is not making money and he's mortgaged to his eyeballs trying to keep it going. Things go from bad to worse when he discovers the US Dept of Agriculture believes his vines were smuggled into the country and planted illegally. When Elliott takes off for France in search of a variety of grape he thinks will improve his wine, through his own stupidity he ends up stranded in Toronto with an expired passport. What happens next is the stuff of the breeziest of situation comedies, and Elliott is quickly installed in the CBC building in downtown Toronto as VP of English Programming. Here he engages in power struggles with those who would challenge his authority, but also proves an effective leader, able to motivate his beleagured crew to produce a new season of quality programming. Riche's flair is for broad satire, and he presents us with a CBC filled mostly with tight-assed overpaid bureaucrats and their sycophants. Throughout, the dialog is crisp and sharp, and often hilarious. Elliott as a pretender in the seat of power is edgily amusing, bumbling from one crisis to the next, and yet surviving to bring his mission as VP to fulfillment. The ending strains credibility even more than what precedes it, but this is not really an issue. As its title suggests, Easy to Like delivers an undemanding couple of hours of entertainment, with a few belly laughs thrown in for good measure. ( )
  icolford | Feb 3, 2012 |
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Nominated for the BMO Winterset Award and the ReLit Award From award-winning author Edward Riche comes an immensely readable and sharp novel about "C"-list screenwriter and wannabe vintner Elliot Johnson. With his life growing more ruinous by the day -- his writing career is on the rocks, his struggling vineyard is being investigated by the feds, and his son, a former child star, is in prison -- Elliot decides to do what any self-respecting wine lover would do: escape to France. Alas, fate has other things in store. Stranded in Canada by an expired passport, he is strongly encouraged to remain there due to his bit part in a growing Hollywood scandal. Deciding that Toronto may just be the perfectly engineered city in which to lay low, Elliot kills time by bluffing his way to the top of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A brilliant work of searing satire, Easy to Like showcases one of our most original authors at his comic best.

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