Val's Book Reviews

Fortune Knox Once:
More Musings from the Edge

Victoria: Heritage House, 2022
$22.95 / 9781772034172

We all need a little Knox humour in our lives these days and Jack Knox has delivered just that once again in his latest book Fortune Knox Once (More Musings from The Edge).

Jack Knox is a well-known columnist at the Victoria Times Colonist where for over twenty-five years his tongue-in-cheek, edgy humour continues to be a delight in today’s weird world. In this book, he has gathered together a number of those columns, added a few more, and tweaked others.

He begins his book with an impassioned letter to Prince Harry pointing out all the excellent reasons for settling on the Saanich Peninsula, which, as we now know, sadly did not happen as he and Meghan were lured away by the sun in California. His first section, “Island Life,” continues with a variety of humorous pieces such as the price of gas these days, road rage, and the story of the rogue cow of Metchosin.

Hard Knox (2016; reviewed by Bill Engleson)

Knox finds comedy in “Canadian Life” in the second section of his book, as he discusses “the sexiest accents in the world,” where, sadly Canadian only came in at thirteenth; amusing school announcements; bulging waistlines and the singing of O Canada. I never realized before how often the words have been changed through the years! Knox’s humour is definitely contagious and it is difficult to pick one particular amusing vignette over another. Suffice to say that as I read on I found myself laughing out loud at how ridiculous life can be when the humour of it is pointed out to us.

By the time I reached his section on “Life” (p. 89), I was feeling very mellow, totally amused, and steeped in Knox’s infectious humour. Again it was hard to choose one story as better than another, but of particular joy in this section were the stories titled “My Apologies to the Thief” and “Cats and Dogs and Catrimony.” Who in their right senses would marry a cat?

The final section in Fortune Knox Once (that is before “The End,” which happens to be in three parts!) is titled “Two Years before the Mask” and includes stories about “Mother’s Day,” “Family Time,” and “Thanksgiving.” Somehow Jack Knox manages to see the funny side of every event.

Opportunity Knox (2017; reviewed by Bill Engleson)

I knew I was going to enjoy this book from the get-go when, in his Introduction, Knox begins:

One long-ago night I had the flu. So did my wife. So did our infant who, while writhing in 3:00 a.m. discomfort, managed to head butt me in the face, splitting my lip. At that point it seemed like a good idea (at least to me) to exit the living room and hand off the child to my wife, which I did. Then — nauseated, sleep-deprived, and bleeding from the mouth — I staggered back to the bedroom, flopped down on the mattress, and thought, “What’s next?” That’s when I heard the dog barfing in the hallway. And that, dear reader, is the past few years in a nutshell.

How right he is! As we have struggled to cope with living in this strange new and crazy world, we all need to laugh a lot more, and Knox goes on to explain that “all this book tries to do is give you a reason to smile.” He has certainly achieved that.

He continues on by saying that “If you read and enjoyed Hard Knox or Opportunity Knox, you’ll probably enjoy Fortune Knox Once too. (If you didn’t enjoy those books, I would suggest giving this one to someone you loathe.)”

In this book, Knox does not dwell on the pandemic. “Covid 19 is like the Trump era,” he writes, “impossible to ignore but we’re all tired of talking about it.”

Jack Knox. Photo by Erin Glazier

I love his amusing comments about the fictitious version of his wife. If people ask “if she’s actually the unsympathetic character I sometimes portray her as, I reply, No, she’s much worse. Really, just awful, but please don’t tell her I said so.”

However, in his Acknowledgements, Jack Knox pays tribute to many folks, including his long-suffering wife to whom he is forever grateful for the unwavering support she gives, but he cannot resist another touch of humour by adding that her “… judgment is seriously flawed.”

In today’s uncertain world, we need more of Jack Knox, and more Jack Knoxes, to get us through the rough days. Knox’s columns in the Victoria Times-Colonist, which we have savoured for so long, continue to inspire us every day, and Fortune Knox Once provides an incredible mixture of silliness and joy that we all need. It would make a great gift for anyone who needs a ray of sunshine in their life.

As Knox describes the absurdity of life in British Columbia’s capital city (a.k.a. “Dysfunction-by-the-sea”) and elsewhere across Canada, he has perfectly captured the necessary amusement and joy readers will take away from reading his book.

“The Ormsby Review, named for pioneering historian and UBC professor Margaret Ormsby, is a remarkable and comprehensive online review of more British Columbia books than you ever imagined existing — the west coast publishing market is lively. It covers fiction, poetry, politics, memoir and much else, as well as a lot of local and west coast history.” – Christopher Moore, September 14, 2020.

Editor and Publisher: Richard Mackie

Mission Statement:  The British Columbia Review, formerly The Ormsby Review, is a lively and inclusive Vancouver-based online journal devoted to the literature, arts, culture, and society of British Columbia. Our mandate is to review books by BC-based writers wherever they choose to publish them. We review books from the member publishers of the ABPBC (Association of Book Publishers of BC), but we also review books that are privately printed, self-published, or published by BC writers at publishing houses elsewhere in Canada or abroad. When possible, we also find BC reviewers. Our accessible and authoritative reviews and essays, written by experts in their fields, are packaged as illustrated magazine articles.

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