Friday, January 17, 2014

LOVE IS A CANOE by Ben Schrank

Intelligent, sophisticated and spot-on Love Is A Canoe is not only an irresistible read but a close-up of the publishing world and that universal emotion - love.  Ben Schrank has created a delicious dish blending the two while exploring the delusions with which people sometimes live simply to avoid what may be a painful truths.

Peter Herman, an author, found success some decades ago with a self-help book titled Marriage Is A Canoe, a tome filled with aphorisms to help folks navigate the sometimes rough waters of wedded bliss.  We find such nuggets of wisdom as “Most likely, true love is nearby” and “Your marriage is sacred.  When you are together, be with each other.”  As Herman tells it he gleaned his wisdom from grandparents, specifically his grandfather, who wanted to share the secrets of  marital bliss with him.  So, when a young Herman and his granddad went fishing in an almost seaworthy canoe granddad shared advice that was later to become Marriage Is A Canoe.

Emily Babson was one who absolutely loved the book and believed every word of it.  Now in her thirties she a rather average looking girl with average tastes married to Eli, a bicycle maker who is drop-dead handsome, the object of lascivious stares from many women.  Nonetheless, Emily believes in her marriage and in Eli until she has reason to believe otherwise.

At about the same time that Emily and Eli find their relationship in trouble she enters a contest being held in honor of the 50th anniversary edition of Marriage Is A Canoe and the winner’s prize is a weekend with the vaunted Peter Herman thus the opportunity to learn from him.  Why, she is so familiar with his book that she can almost quote it from memory, and Emily is convinced that he the only person who can save her marriage.

You know this is coming - Emily wins the contest and she and Eli are off to meet Peter Herman.  What the reader does not know is all the much anticipated weekend will hold and that her emotional guru is not at all as she imagined him.

Is Love Is A Canoe a tad cynical?  Perhaps, but it is also smart, witty and thoroughly enjoyable.

- Gail Cooke

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