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Mordecai by Charles Foran
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Mordecai by Charles Foran
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Jul 05, 2011 | ISBN 9780676979657

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    Jul 05, 2011 | ISBN 9780676979657

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  • Oct 19, 2010 | ISBN 9780307376022

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“A fine, intelligent, deeply historicized, compassionate, insightful, fair-minded and above all loving book.” —Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon and Angels and Ages

“It was a full, rich life, and it’s a full, rich book. . . . We judge a man by his life, a writer by his books. Charles Foran has done a thorough and thoughtful job of the first. Time will do the second.” —The Walrus
“A massive work that examines this master novelist, wit and public curmudgeon in sympathetic but not uncritical style.” —The Globe and Mail

“A comprehensive, panoramic portrait that will stand as the definitive Richler biography. . . . Foran is a master storyteller. . . . Ultimately, in Mordecai, Foran reminds us of how Richler managed to make Canadian culture relevant and sexy to the world.” The Gazette (Montreal)
“The great strength of Mordecai is in the much deeper picture Foran gives of Richler’s relationships. . . . Foran gives a convincing and complex portrait of Richler.” Winnipeg Free Press
“A massive and enthralling biography.” National Post
“The definitive biography of Mordecai Richler. . . . So detailed, so exhaustive, so astute and authoritative. . . . This is a portrait of a dedicated artist who raged against the dying of the light. As I finished the book, I found tears rolling down my cheeks.” Ken McGoogan, National Post
“Easily the most thorough accounting of Richler’s life. . . . An absorbing, sympathetic and often funny account of a fundamentally decent man who worked like a demon at his craft, and who brought the verve and engagement of an essayist to the sometimes aesthetically and tonally narrow world of Canadian literary fiction.” Toronto Star


Canadian Jewish Book Award WINNER 2011

Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction WINNER 2011

Governor General’s Literary Award – Nonfiction WINNER 2011

Hilary Weston Writer’s Trust Non-Fiction Prize WINNER 2011

British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction NOMINEE 2011

Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award – Non-fiction Book of the Year NOMINEE 2011

Author Essay

That summer he turned his thoughts to one man he singularly admired. He proposed to Dianna Symonds, the latest editor of the “new dazzling” Saturday Night, that he expand another commission – a piece for a book of writings about Pierre Trudeau – into a longer reflection for the magazine on his thirty-year-plus relationship with the retired prime minister. “I first met Pierre Trudeau back in November, 1967,” he wrote in “The Man behind the Mania,” of the lunch in Ottawa hosted by his friends Bernard and Sylvia Ostry, then an influential couple in the capital. Relating half a dozen more encounters, including a strange meal in the presence of Maggie Trudeau during the dissolution of that marriage, and saying only that “we usually lunch in Montreal once a year,” he notably didn’t quote any private conversations. For someone occasionally accused by important friends of making unapproved use of private remarks in his column – “You never said it was off-the-record,” Richler had snapped at John Lynch-Staunton after a tale told over drinks showed up in the National Post – such discretion was surprising. But Pierre Trudeau wasn’t anyone else; like, perhaps, John Kenneth Galbraith, he was that rarest of creatures – a man Mordecai Richler naturally deferred to. “We are not intimates, or even friends, but merely acquaintances,” he said, with similar deference. The piece radiated the kind of respect for a Canadian public figure that he was famous for not evidencing in his writings. The only time “we exchanged harsh words,” he admitted, was that Sussex Drive lunch during the October Crisis. Had the prime minister really needed to impose the War Measures Act? he asked. A buzzer, alerting an irritated Trudeau to leave for question period in parliament, kept the exchange between the two Montrealers from growing more heated.
“The Man behind the Mania” ran as the cover story for the September 22 issue of Saturday Night. The timing couldn’t have been more fortunate for the magazine; Pierre Trudeau died six days later. His body lay in state on Parliament Hill for two days before being transferred by train to Montreal’s city hall, men, women and children lining the tracks between the cities to pay tribute. On October 3 a state funeral was held at Notre-Dame Basilica, with three thousand gathering in and around the church and millions watching on live television. The public outpouring had no equal in Canadian history.
A sense of passing time was in the air. Between requests for prefaces and offers of honorary degrees, the summer and fall of 2000 saw Richler being celebrated in a manner befitting his stature, and that perhaps reflected an emerging concern that he too might not be around much longer. In his commencement speech at McGill, where he received an honorary degree, he slagged the university for its former quotas that limited Jews, while also making fun of his meagre high-school average, which would have failed to gain him entry even as a Gentile.

Table Of Contents

I. The Rebbe and the Shammas
II. The Simchat Torah
III. Richler Artificial Stone Works (No Success)
IV. 5257 St. Urbain Street
V. Battles
VI. Wars
VII. Comrades
VIII. Making Aliyah
IX. Room 41
X. Cut/Cutting Loose
I. The Right Age
II. C/O Bar Escandell, San Antonio, Ibiza, Spain
III. Girls, Girls, Girls
IV. Montreal, Dull and Anaesthetic
V. M, The Boy Writer
VI. Hampstead Parties
VII. General Progress Report
VIII. Canadian Club
IX. Roquebrune
I. I’ll Show You the World
II. Montreal Meteor
III. This Year in the Salt Mines
IV. Tel Aviv, London, New York
V. For My Father
VI. Hillcrest, Kingston Hill, Surrey
VII. Like Herzog
VIII. Sitting Shiva
IX. Minority Man
X. Swiss Family Richler
XI. Rest, Rest, Perturbed Spirit
I. An Affirming Flame
II. Return of the Prodigal . . . Again
III. Edgehill Road
IV. Filthy, Disgusting Fellow
V. An Old Jacket, Worn and Torn
VI. Dear Maw
VII. A Good House
VIII. Oh! Canada!
I. A Very Complex Man
II. My Father’s Life
III. One’s Intentions Are Always Much Grander
IV. The Gursky Family Tree
I. Back on the Map
II. Things Are Bad Enough without Nastiness from Mordecai Richler
III. The Golem
IV. Richler Calls It
V. Keep Fighting. Don’t Despair
I. Boyishly Proud
II. Two Alter Kockers
III. Overtime
Bibliographic Essays
Photo Credits
Permissions on Quoted Texts
Selected Index

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