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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Reader's Diary #463- Mordecai Richler: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

Confession time: I have no ambition. Somehow, in recent years, I've come to see ambition as a cover for materialism. Or needing the praise of others. Maybe it's merely being caught up in "the game." Could be all the above. If you are ambitious, and I've no doubt offended you, take comfort in knowing that there's a very real chance I'm just lazy.

Duddy Kravitz is ambition. I didn't like him. But, once again, Richler made me root for an unlikeable character. How does he always pull this off?

I didn't enjoy The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz as much as Cocksure or Barney's Version. It took me much longer to get into it and the beginning didn't seem as focused. The drama at the opening revolved around Duddy's highschool days and his teacher nemesis, Mr. MacPherson. Sure we get introduced to Duddy, as well as his unpleasant side, but the teacher seems to disappear prematurely from the book. He's referenced once or twice later, but it seems tacked on, as if, in these earlier days of Mr. Richler's career, editors were brave enough to make a suggestion.

Usually when I take a while to get into a book I simply chalk it up to an adjustment period from the previous author. This time I truly think the writing got better. The story got tighter; the satire was better balanced with believable, complex characters; and the setting was superb. It was a wonderful book, but I think it simply foreshadowed what Richler was capable of.

7 comments:

myza said...

I never read this book but I have owned it for a while. I enjoyed Barney's Version so much that I wanted to read more by Mordecai Richler but just never did it. Maybe I just want to read Barney's Version again!

Sherrie said...

Hi John,
I have finished another book for this challenge. Someone Else's Ghost - Margaret Buffie. My review is here: http://sherriesbooks.blogspot.com/2009/03/someone-elses-ghost.html

I was looking at the 8th updates, two of the books I have read are not listed.
Spook Country - William Gibson. My review is here: http://sherriesbooks.blogspot.com/2008/12/spook-country.html
Golden Girl and other stories - Gillian Chan. My review is here: http://sherriesbooks.blogspot.com/2009/01/golden-girl-and-other-stories.html
Have a great day!!

Sherrie

John Mutford said...

Myza: Barney's Version is one of my all time favourites. I should reread that one again, too. But for now, I just want to check out his other books.

Sherrie: Thanks. I added the William Gibson book to the 8th update, sorry I missed it. However, the Gillian Chan book was indeed there already.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It's been decades since I read this, and I really can't recall that much of it. But since I do remember much more of Cocksure and Barney's Version, I suspect, like you, that I enjoyed them more as well.

Still, it's Richler, innit?

Bybee said...

I really want to read this book.

Wanda said...

I remember reading Richler in CanLit years ago and thinking he was just OK. It's probably time for me to give his work another go...

Sandra said...

This is one of those authors I've never read. I guess I should get to it one of these days. I didn't like the Duddy character much when I saw the story on film so I'll try Barney's Version.