Tell Me More About Energy, Ron!
A review for Kindle
By Ron Doering
Former Assistant Deputy Minister of the Environment for Canada
Ron Truman had forty years experience as a professional writer before he sat down to write his memoirs. It shows. He writes brightly, seemingly effortlessly, with an easygoing flair for the right phrase, the telling anecdote, the interesting insight, the trenchant comment.
Truman spent much of his freelance career with the Globe and Mail where he wrote over 500 feature articles.Though he doesn't say so, his prolific output for the Globe must be some kind of a record. His subject matter was wide ranging though focusing primarily on outdoor adventure and travel with several pieces on hunting and fishing. You won't be reading any reviews of this lively book in the Globe; Truman's assessment of his former employer is unrelenting, predicting that it is "doomed to decrepitude and decay under its current editorial direction". Not clear yet what he really thinks? He offers to write the Globe obituary stressing that it is a "victim of technological change and the unwillingness of the public to pay good money for the Orwellian dullness of its political correctness, the shrillness of its feminist columnists and the triviality of its petty intellectuals".
But the Globe shouldn't feel special. Truman is equally harsh on academics, environmentalists, bureaucrats and politicians of all stripes though he seems to reserve a special place for the NDP which he describes as "little more than a collection of misfits and morons".
For me, one of the most informative sections of the book deals with his 20 years experience in electricity, nuclear energy, renewable energy, and energy conservation. He recounts fascinating anecdotes from his experience working for the Ontario government and for a private sector solar energy company. Many of his stories may be appearing for the first time in print. But he leaves this reader wanting more. The issues he deals with are even more current today; I would love to see his experienced and clear analytical mind focused on today's situation. This excellent section is a feature story, half done.
The most moving part of this book is the last section that deals with Truman's struggles with what he calls his "cardiovascular adventures". First a rare heart disease and then some years later a massive stroke on his 70th birthday provide Truman with the fodder for a really touching piece of outstanding journalism. There is an emotional story arc here that makes it compelling reading. By now the reader likes the author and is cheering for his recovery.This is a seasoned writer at his best, candidly revealing his mental struggles with what he calls " the furies unleashed by stroke". There is a hint that there was partly a therapeutic motive behind beginning this revealing memoir. This is a feature story that deserves a wider audience.
Truman used to write for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. He knows how to make complex medical matters accessible to the lay reader. His intimate recounting of his personal journey would be helpful to many people who have had their own cardiovascular adventures. I've already shared it with a friend and highly recommend it to others.
Another review on Kindle
Ron Truman doesn't make any bones about it: as he spells out in his Heading for Chapter Six..."Polar Bears Scare Me S***less". Well, they do me too, but just as fascinating in this often hilarious collection of anecdotes that defined his career as a freelance writer are the "Other Scares" referred to in his title. It's scary -- terrifying at times -- to come to the realization that the folks we like to think are running things -- people like Government Ministers and Deputy Ministers in charge of our environment, our nuclear plants, or the survival of fish, game and wildlife species can sometimes appear to be asleep at the wheel. Truman's adventures in frustration with misguided animal rights activists, or policies governing the installation of huge solar panel farms (without checking to see whether those pesky pipelines running beneath them might cause a disastrous headache or two) provide a brisk splash of cold water. His vivid descriptions of trips into the hinterland to gather material for his articles -- whether he's being instructed to sleep with a pistol under his pillow in case a bear decides to amble into camp for a midnight visit…or having a bush pilot who's determined to land on a rocky beach no matter how many tries it might take -- all make for vicarious reading. Those chapters alone make this book an entertaining read, but he saves the most compelling stuff for his later chapters when he details, with a squirm-inducing first-person POV, his brushes with mortality sparked first by cardiomyopathy and later by the full-blown terror of stroke. And while his survival and recovery are beautifully detailed…his suggestion that we're leading lives that "hang by a hair" is the real nightmare inducer here. This is a worthwhile book, get it, and read it…from the safe, cosy comfort of your favourite armchair.