MACLEAN’S REVIEWS

Look—Max has found another way to be funny

And in the process Old Rawhide tears a strip off his old CBC bosses

JOHN CLARE November 1 1967
MACLEAN’S REVIEWS

Look—Max has found another way to be funny

And in the process Old Rawhide tears a strip off his old CBC bosses

JOHN CLARE November 1 1967

Look—Max has found another way to be funny

Books

And in the process Old Rawhide tears a strip off his old CBC bosses

WHEN SOMEONE comes along who is both a creative mimic and a brilliant raconteur, Mother Nature in her cosmic wisdom and with her well-known regard for what is fair usually with-holds other talents such as perfect pitch and the ability to write well. Enough is enough, she seems to say. But in the case of the CBC’s Max Ferguson the old broad has gone overboard with prodigality. The witty evidence of this is to be found in Ferguson’s new reminiscences, And Now . . . Here's Max (McGraw-Hill, $5.50).

This is an extremely funny book which does for Canadian radio what Ben Hecht and Gene Fowler did for U.S. newspapers with their lively reminiscences, many of them undoubtedly based on fact. These stories of Max behind the microphone, Max twisting wrists with the brass. Max covering the Royal Tour are all funny, some of them even hilarious, with a few ribald touches, in the best of bad taste.

Unless you have a completely plastic ear you should be able to hear Max talking while you read this book. He sounds just the way he does on his national show where, each weekday morning, he cuts up a few touches with his announcer and friend Allan McFee, does a couple of impromptu skits based on the day’s news, and plays some unusual records.

Never can it be said of Max’s stories that they sound funny only because of the way he told them. He writes them just as well. As well as giving us a look at the wacky world of Max Ferguson, who became a genuine Canadian star and whose name became a Household Word despite the CBC. the book provides a revealing portrait of the corporation itself. In the next few months every MP engaged in running up that new broadcasting act should read it to find out what the CBC is really like. Obviously, Fowler had no idea of what was actually going on when he wrote his celebrated report. And anyone who hases his image of the corporation on sightings of Don Messer, Earl Cameron and The Second Son of Seven Days is in for a surprise.

There are dull little illustrations by Doug Wright which come through as though engraved on stale pumpernickel. But that doesn’t matter, really. Max is what the book is about and he’s just as funny here as he is on the air.

Two other famous names have also come out with books about their own professions — with mixed results. KARSH PORTFOLIO, by Yousuf Karsh (University of Toronto Press, $10.95)

may look somewhat familiar to devotees of the celebrated Ottawa photographer, since he has included in this new hook several camera studies from his earlier Portraits of Greatness. But to these Karsh has added 12 fresh pictures to provide this fat album, printed excellently in the Netherlands by a process which the author says makes the book page comparable in quality to original copy. As a photographer, Karsh is justly famous. But when he turns writer and starts maundering on about trying “to reveal the mind and the soul behind the face” many readers will begin to wish that his pictures — some good, some great — had been left to speak for themselves.

DOCTOR’S WIVES, by Frank G. Slaughter (Doubleday, $6.95) is the work of a doctor who has written 48 books, many of them about his profession.

This one is all about the girl the Doc leaves behind when he goes to scrub up at the hospital in the morning. Sometimes the girl is his wife and often she’s got something called Doctors’ Wives’ Syndrome and she feels inadequate despite golf and martinis and children. Dr. Slaughter takes about five medical marriages, mixes them up (one of them he shoots up) and at the end checks them out, all more or less cured. A lively, sexy story with some gripping descriptions of surgical operations. JOHN CLARE