Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler


the book, published in 1959 in London and Boston, in 1969 in Toronto



the movie, 1974, Richard Dreyfuss' first leading role! And many unknown Canadians in minor roles!

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is Mordecai Richler's fourth novel. From The Canadian Encyclopedia:

Duddy Kravitz is a brash Jewish Montréal kid determined to make it - whatever "it" is, whatever "it" takes. Acting on his grandfather's maxim that a man is nothing without land, Duddy schemes and dreams to develop his first brainstorm, a lakeshore property in the Laurentians. Duddy is an attractive figure, bursting with chutzpah, but he is also driven to exploit others in his drive to succeed.

I spent a lot of time cringing while I read this book and while I watched this movie. Because Duddy does selfish things to get ahead. Selfish things which turn into horrible things as the novel progresses. That said, I couldn't put the book down.

A snippet from the book:

To a middle-class stranger, it is true, one street would have seemed as squalid as the next. On each corner a cigar store, a grocery, and a fruit man. Outside staircases everywhere. Winding ones, wooden ones, rusty and risky ones. Here a prized lot of grass splendidly barbered, there a spitefully weedy patch. An endless repetition of precious peeling balconies and waste lots making the occasional gap here and there.



Richler (1931-2001) grew up in working-class Montreal during a time of anti-Semitism. He used this setting (around St. Urbain's Street in the 1930s and 40s) in many of his books. Richler was prolific and controversial. He wrote everything from children's books (the Jacob Two-Two series which you must read) to novels to essays to political satires to screen plays. He left Canada for London, England for a while, then returned because he was worried "about being so long away from the roots of my discontent" and because he missed ""blizzards, hockey, smoked-meat sandwiches." He won TWO Governor-General's awards: St. Urbain's Horsemen (1971) and Cocksure (1968)

Mr. Richler said he wanted to write one book that would continue to be read after his death. He more than succeeded.

Hop over to pattinase's blog for links to other posts for Friday's Forgotten Books. Thanks, Patti, for spearheading this!


http://www.northernstars.ca/Writers/richler_bio.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordecai_Richler
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0000256

16 comments:

Ray said...

A 'forgotten' book that I've read - though not for many years - but is on my 'must find' list. Kravitz was human and there is humour tucked in there.
Good of you to bring this book up, Barrie.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Loved the book and the movie. Richard Dreyfus seemed perfect as Duddy.

Sarakastic said...

Yet another book that I have seen & now must own thanks for sharing!

laughingwolf said...

far from 'forgotten', but a good reminder... thx barrie :)

Barrie said...

Yeah, you are right, Laughingwolf. I should've titled this post: Books You Better Not Forget! :) Actually, in typing this post, I realized I never read Cocksure. So, I'm adding that to my list.

Barbara Martin said...

The wonderful memories this trip back has brought: Jacob Two Two and Montreal's smoked meat sandwiches. The latter is food from heaven, and only perfect if eaten in Montreal.

David Cranmer said...

I saw the film which I liked and I bet the book is even better. I had forgotten about it. Thanks Barrie.

ChrisEldin said...

I have never heard of the book or the movie, but this is the kind of book I simply eat up. Is it similar to "An American Tragedy?"

I'll look it up now on Amazon. Thanks for the great review!

Jenny Jill said...

We have a Barrie boy who has disappeared. I fear for his safety.

For those parents wondering what to do, here is some info to help you protect your children while in the computer or gaming. I hope it helps someone. Please pass it on.

Barrie said...

Jenny, I hope they find him. And how amazing that Microsoft is putting up money. I hope it works.

Laura said...

Oh - I will have to dig that one out.

One of my all time favs is Solamon Gersky Was here.

Thanks for sharing.

Mary Ann said...

I've not heard of the book or movie either. Thanks for the review.

gabe said...

Great snippet - totally showing atmosphere- I love the sentence fragment ... "Winding ones, wooden ones, rusty and risky ones." It's almost poetry.

He deserved those GGs.!

gabe said...

Great snippet - totally showing atmosphere- I love the sentence fragment ... "Winding ones, wooden ones, rusty and risky ones." It's almost poetry.

He deserved those GGs.!

Billy said...

Saw you at Charles blog. Thanks for the reminder about Duddy--and Dreyfuss' first leading role. Cool post.

Mac and Cheese said...

I've actually read that one! I don't make a lot of time for reading in my life these days, so I always get excited when one of the more literary bloggers mentions a book that I'm familiar with. Yay me! Also, kudos to Barbara Martin for understanding the value of Montreal smoked meat.