To read the interview with author Joel Yanofsky click HERE
If you didn’t know what the fuss was all about concerning Canada’s infamous author, Mordecai Richler, (infamous according to the Jewish and French-Canadian communities, and even sometimes English Canada), fret no longer, help is at hand.
Montreal author, literary journalist and book reviewer Joel Yanofsky’s recent book, Mordecai & Me An Appreciation of a Kind, certainly provides a candid account and sometimes-poignant view of this Canadian icon.
Yanofsky confesses in his book that he entertained mixed feelings about Richler, and that his feelings had mixed feelings. He even consulted a dream analyst, after he had recurring dreams in which he pesters famous and quite dead authors. According to his analyst, these dreams are a result of his feeling inadequate and undeserving to write about Richler. However, perhaps even Yanofsky was surprised, as are his readers, that his book is a clever and eye-opening study of an individual, whom the author has described as crusty and ill tempered, or more exacting, as he states-“a curmudgeon,” and “a pain in the ass.”
Although, much of what Yanofsky says may not be new to readers who have followed Richler’s career, it is the way it is presented that makes the book a fascinating read. It is a valuable contribution to the understanding of a Canadian writer and satirist, who accomplished the feat of being very funny and serious at the same time. I would even say that he probably would have also made a great stand up comic had he ventured into this territory.
Everyone knows the pleasure derived from reading an interesting book, and I must admit, even though I am not much of a Richler fan, Yanofsky’s narrative engaged me in a way that I felt I was not a bystander but rather someone who was being taken on a journey. An adventure, where both the reader and the author tagged along with Richler from the moment he entered the Canadian literary scene until his death. So excited were we that we could hardly wait to tell our friends the remarkable trip we had just taken, and all the wonderful discoveries we had acquired along the way. The author cleverly succeeds in presenting material that we need to know in order to comprehend what follows in a matrix of accumulated knowledge.
In fact, when I asked Yanofsky what was his primary objective in writing the book, he indicated that he wanted the book to be about the writing life, about its vagaries and its ups and downs, of which there are many. He wanted to write about things like bitterness and jealousy, things that writers don’t usually tackle in their work.
Nonetheless, at the end I have to admit that I was still left scratching my head. Was Richler purposely playing the role of a complicated and extreme character, which he knew the majority of people would not be able to bear? Was this all a good marketing ploy? Some of his characters were pretty “gutsy” as well as slick, and I would not put it past Richler to emulate them, or perhaps they emulated him? However, as I never personally knew Richler, it would be presumptuous on my part to jump to such conclusions.
Yanofsky, who did in fact interview Richler several times, revealed to me that he didn’t think Richler’s impatience with foolishness was an act. He thought it was real and yes he cultivated it, but he wasn’t putting it on. According to Yanofsky, what he liked about Richler is that he did not care much what other people thought about him, perhaps to a fault. In other words, if you don’t like me-tough!