Mantis Dreams

Mantis Dreams
Adam Pottle

Here’s a good one you may have missed. Probably the most common complaint about CanLit — the tag frequently given to Canadian literary fiction — is its lack of humour. Comic literature is seen as an oxymoron in some circles in this great nation. This is a problem for Dr. Dexter Ripley of the University of Saskatchewan, who thinks Mordecai Richler is the only Canadian writer worth reading (“The others write like they’re lost in traffic.”). Ripley is an essential figure for satire: the guy who is always pushing boundaries and making us nervous in our laughter, forcing us to reflect on just what it is we think is so damn funny anyway. Ripley, whose journals these are, is well fitted for such a role, as his body is degenerating from a wasting illness and he has a penchant for disability jokes. He’s also a complex and unreliable narrator. He despises weakness but cultivates dependency, and while funny can also be a cruel shit. But satire asks us to work at defining that boundary: satire is cruel. Its truth hurts, and it’s funny because it’s true.