Thursday, February 10, 2011

Barney's Version: Review

I don't know the last time a novel has taken me a month and a half to read. I started Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler on Boxing Day and somehow, despite my better judgement, refused to give it up until I managed to force my way to the finish tonight. 

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I kept thinking it had to get better. I mean, Richler is a Canadian institution. This is not a story that improves as you warm to it. It is depressing. The characters largely lack charm or redemption. The writing lacks poetry. The dawdling plot is made more convoluted and stagnant by foreshadowing and flashback. I honestly only finished reading it because I prefer to read a book before seeing the movie adaptation, but now, having finished it, I have no interest in seeing the movie. I clearly am missing whatever the critics who called it "hilarious," "wonderful and gripping" read. 

I really want to love Canadian literature. I want to support the arts in Canada. I want to brag about how clever and distinct our writers are. Richler does not help my case. 

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