The “Bacon” in the title of this enjoyable comic debut from Calgary author Michael Davie is Bacon Sobelowski, an unprepossessing young man just out of high school and wondering what to do with his life. His options are limited, since the only thing he seems to like doing is fishing, and he isn’t even very good at that. His one goal in life, inspired by the wisdom of Kenny Rogers, is to find his special “someone.”
This sets up a conventional plot, as Bacon, armed only with his secondhand Spincaster fishing rod with thumb-button trigger and Kamlooper lure, is nearly undone by a wild-at-heart first love, the evil ways of the big city (in this case, Calgary), the charms of a cousin who arrives by surprise from Korea, and a game of sexual bingo at a tourist camp.
As with fictional progenitors like Candide and Joseph Andrews, Bacon is somewhat of a passive protagonist in all of this. Despite all of his agonizing over hormonal urges, he is at heart an innocent, naive in the ways of the flesh and the world.
The fun revolves around the novel’s supporting cast of loonies, especially the horny, tough-as-nails, predatory women. Indeed, the world Bacon travels through is very much a woman’s world. The men he meets tend to be romantics – sentimental, kind-hearted, and obliging. Even the mysterious Laszlo Maximilian Mursky, one of the more bizarre creations in recent Canadian fiction, is a weirdly effete, uxorious villain. It is the women who are in control.
Timing is the essence of comedy. Bacon complains of his “bad timing” throughout the book, but Davies’ timing is excellent. The dialogue maintains a nice rhythm for humorous emphases, the gags are well placed and developed, and the plot keeps all its balls in the air for the duration. Though it doesn’t entirely come together at the end, leaving a number of those balls still in play, Fishing for Bacon nevertheless makes for a fun ride, with many laughs along the way.