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Author Topic: Mordechai Richler
Mohamad Khan
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Babbler # 1752

posted 25 June 2003 05:24 PM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
so, i've never read anything by Richler, but my friend's parents are moving to Vancouver and they've left me a boxful of books, including Barney's Version, Solomon Gursky Was Here, St Urbain's Horsemen, and Joshua Then and Now. any opinions on these novels?

what i did was to go over to their place and make a list of things that i might like, with the understanding that they'd give me whatever they could spare. i've a vague sense that i didn't get quite what i wanted, and i got a number of things i hadn't really bargained for, but, hey, it was free.

so here i am, with zero shelf space, and a complete set of Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire novels. i'm nearing the end of reading the copy of Barchester Towers that Michelle so graciously gave me, and now find that i don't need it since i have another copy that's part of a set. so, Michelle, if you want it back, it's yours...otherwise i guess it's going to the library or something. where's that book exchange thread gone? Barchester Towers wasn't bad, not really fascinating, but alright. how i'm going to get through five more Trollope novels, i don't know.

as for the Richler, i did have him on the list, but i had my eye more on their stash of Robertson Davies novels. i guess they didn't want to give those up. the problem is that the professor has largely the same literary tastes as myself.

i also wound up with a gigantic biography of Graham Greene which i'm not sure i really want. anyone here mad about Graham Greene?

other than that, not much, but i'm pleased with this small remainder:

Harold Bloom, How to Read and Why
Saki, The Best of Saki
Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories and Parables
Laurence Sterne, Tristam Shandy
Rohinton Mistry, Family Matters


From: "Glorified Harlem": Morningside Heights, NYC | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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Babbler # 560

posted 25 June 2003 11:03 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Mohamad, any time you want to read any Robertson Davies novels, my bookshelf is your bookshelf. I have an all-encompassing passion for Robertson Davies novels. So Barchester Towers was so-so, huh? One of these days, I'll have to read it - one of these days.

Hey, did you ever get around to reading that Chinua Achebe book, Things Fall Apart? I still haven't read The Satanic Verses. I've started it, but for some reason I haven't been able to finish novels for the past year or two.

As for Richler...I absolutely LOVED The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. But that's not on the list of books you got, right? Still, read it if you get a chance. You can borrow my copy. At first I wasn't insane about it because I didn't find Duddy to be a very sympathetic character even though I think he was supposed to be in a weird way. But it's one of those books I read every so often, so I've read it quite a few times now, and I've grown to really love it - it's one of my favorite stories. You know how some stories just stick with you and become part of your soul? Duddy Kravitz is like that for me.

And there are parts where, I swear, I'm doubled over, laughing out loud with that book. For anyone who has read the book, remember the scene where Duddy and his "artiste" film director were showing the Bar Mitzvah film to the family who commissioned it, and the film kept cutting from the Bar Mitzvah ceremony and party to weird montages of circumcisions and tribal dances? God, I nearly wet myself laughing every time I read that scene.

I tried to read St. Urbain's Horsemen but couldn't get into it. I don't know whether that's because the book wasn't very good or because maybe I was starting my I-can't-finish-any-novel-no-matter-how-engaging phase. Maybe I'll try again. St. Urbain's Horsemen is set in the same location as Duddy Kravitz - on St. Urbain Street in Montreal. A few years back, my ex and I decided to take a drive to Montreal for the day (it's the only time I've ever been there). We didn't know dick about the city, we just drove around and hoped we'd see some sights. And we did. And lo and behold, suddenly we were on St. Urbain street. I was thrilled to death to be on the street that had inspired the book. At least I assume that street inspired the book - Richler grew up there, did he not?

Anyhow. Richler has been a one-hit-wonder for me, Mohamad, but only because I haven't really tried to read his other books except St. Urbain's Horsemen. In fact, maybe I'll try to read that one again tonight in bed.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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Babbler # 1064

posted 25 June 2003 11:19 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
so, i've never read anything by Richler, but my friend's parents are moving to Vancouver and they've left me a boxful of books, including Barney's Version, Solomon Gursky Was Here, St Urbain's Horsemen, and Joshua Then and Now. any opinions on these novels?

Of the Richler I've read, Solomon Gursky is my favourite, followed by Barney's Version (haven't read the other two on your list). Solomon Gursky for its satire on Canadian history, and on class in Canada, Barney's Version for its satire on... well, on very much indeed, including (as well as the foregoing) the CanLit business (and the Lit business in general), the memoir business, and even urban legends.

One thing about Richler that, perhaps, makes him unfashionable these days -- so far as I can discern, he was never a believer in the "iceberg" theory of literature, all that stuff about there needing to be very much more below the waterline than above. While he's not, thank God, given to purple prose, neither is he a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination. What you encounter on the page is, more or less, what you get -- it's mostly all there on the surface. Which is not to say that he's a superficial writer, or deals only in surfaces. That would be to miss the point of his writing style.

quote:
And lo and behold, suddenly we were on St. Urbain street. I was thrilled to death to be on the street that had inspired the book. At least I assume that street inspired the book - Richler grew up there, did he not?

Yes, that's his old 'hood, all right. Much changed now, of course.

[ 25 June 2003: Message edited by: 'lance ]


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
kuba walda
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Babbler # 3134

posted 26 June 2003 02:58 PM      Profile for kuba walda        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz was the only book that I could get into. I started all of them at one time or another, and slowly drifted off to sleep. Maybe now older I should try again.
From: the garden | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mohamad Khan
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Babbler # 1752

posted 27 June 2003 12:52 AM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
thanks! i'm glad i have a nice collection, then.

i was sorting through my books, and i found a collection of Yehuda Amichai's poems, in Hebrew with English translations. anyone read Amichai? i've heard that Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish read him (in Hebrew) and was influenced by him in his youth.

oh, look, i've mentioned Mahmoud Darwish. now i must quote him, such being the Law.

لا أُحبُّكَ، لا أكرَهُك
قال مُعْتَقلٌ للمحقِّقِ: قلبي مَلِيءٌ
بما ليس يَعْنيك. قلبي يفيضُ برائحةِالمَرْيميَّةِ،
قلبي بريءٌ، مُضِيءٌ، مَليءٌ،
ولا وقت في قلب للامتحان. بلى،
لا أُحبُّكَ. مَنْ أَنْتَ حتَّى أُحبُّكَ؟
هلأَنت بعضُ أَنايَ، وموعدُ شايٍ
وبُحَّةُ نايٍ، وأُغنيةٌٌ كي أُحبُّك؟
لكنني أكرهُ الاعتقال ولا أكرهُكْ.
هكذا قال مُعْتَقَلٌ للمحقِّقِ: عاطِفتي
لا تِخُصُّكَ. عاطفتي هي لَيْلي الخصوصيُّ...
لَيْلي الذي يتحرَّكُ بين الوسائد حُرّاً
من الوزن والقافيةْ!

[ 27 June 2003: Message edited by: Mohamad Khan ]


From: "Glorified Harlem": Morningside Heights, NYC | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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Babbler # 2534

posted 27 June 2003 08:18 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Unfortunaely my Eurocentric computer can't read Arabic, or Hebrew, script .
From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mohamad Khan
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1752

posted 27 June 2003 09:19 AM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
oh...whoops...no trans, eh? it's Arabic:

I don't love you. I don't hate you.
Said the internment camp to the inspector: My heart is full
of that which does not concern you. My heart is flooding over with the fragrance of sage,
my heart is innocent, luminous, full,
and there is no time in my heart for the inspection. Yes, surely
I don't love you. Who are you that I should love you?
Are you an 'I' of mine, a tea time,
the rasp of a flute, or a song, that I should love you?
But I hate the internment, and I don't hate you.
So said the internment camp to the inspector: My compassion
does not favour you alone. My compassion is my special night....
My night that moves between the pillows free
of metre and rhyme.


From: "Glorified Harlem": Morningside Heights, NYC | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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Babbler # 478

posted 27 June 2003 09:47 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I love Greene, MK, although a bio will depend very much on who wrote it.

I still owe you a boxful of theory-crit books, and one day soon I am going to be sane enough to get you over here to drag them away (only the ones you want, of course).

'lance's reading of Gursky and Barney is (of course!) most acute and eloquent. Ditto Michelle on Duddy. The Richler that had me doubled up all the way through is a little "entertainment" of his (to use a word of Graham Greene's), Cocksure, about the London publishing/film biz/world. Look for the seducable girl who has seen too many movie love-scenes that fade to black just as the kisses get passionate. ;-)


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mohamad Khan
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1752

posted 27 June 2003 10:41 AM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
the bio is by Norman Sherry: The Life of Graham Greene (Volume I: 1904-1939). 783 pages.
From: "Glorified Harlem": Morningside Heights, NYC | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sara Mayo
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3714

posted 27 June 2003 05:20 PM      Profile for Sara Mayo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
[THREAD DRIFT]

quote:
And lo and behold, suddenly we were on St. Urbain street. I was thrilled to death to be on the street that had inspired the book. At least I assume that street inspired the book - Richler grew up there, did he not?

Ahhh... St-Urbain.... My wonderful memories of St-Urbain.

Yes, Richler did grow up on St-Urbain, and he went to Baron Byng School which is also on St-Urbain. Baron Byng closed eons ago, and now houses Sun Youth (a community centre).

I lived a few doors down from there on St-Urbain for a while, with my boyfried (and occaisional babbler). What a neighbourhood! The Portuguese Chruch is right around the corner, and is often refered to as the "Disco Church" for its garrish decorations and non-stop summer parties! There were many a Sunday morning where we'd be woken up by the oompapa band leading yet anohter parade to celebrate yet another dead saint's birthday. Then we'd have trouble falling asleep to the music of the Ricky Martin cover band playing late into the night!

But noise was just what you moved there for. You had the constant regular day-time traffic on St-Urbain which only let up slightly late at night. In this short lull, the street racers took over and though fewer, managed to never let the decibel level get below the level at which you had to close the windows to have a telephone conversation. With Hotel Dieu hospital a few blocks down the street, and Royal Victoria Hospital just a bit further, ambluance sirens added variety to the soup of noise.

You also came for the neighbours.

Our apartment was on the third floor and the balcony gave a us a great view of the late night St-Jean Baptiste rioters running away from the cops on the Mountain on their way to trash St-Laurent businesses.

Next door to our apartment building there was the drughouse which was the scene of more than a few police visits.

Directly across the street from us lived a very old Polish couple who spent their entire summers on the balcony. I wonder if they're still there?

God, I miss Montreal. I lived there all my life, and never left for more than a month, until I moved to Hamilton about six months ago. So my record now is about 6 weekd without spending time there.

Michelle you'll have to go visit Montreal again. Kingblake, lagatta and I (and others) can give you tips on what to see when you're there. And while you're there, check-in on the Polish couple for me, eh?
[/THREAD DRIFT]


From: "Highways are monuments to inequality" - Enrique Penalosa | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged

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