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Edited by Michael Darling.

Toronto, ECW Press, 1986. 183pp, paper, ISBN 0-920763-00-6 (cloth) $25.00, 0-920763-01-4 (paper) $15.00. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Alan Thomas

Volume 15 Number 4
1987 July

Michael Darling, introducing this set of eight critical essays, poses the general question of Richler's literary status. Is he a serious writer or simply a lightweight entertainer? The essayists naturally, and overwhelmingly, judge Richler as serious. Michael Greenstein and Laura Groening both write about Richler as a Jewish author and Groening very effectively established the difference between the nature of Jewishness in Richler's work and in the work of the American novelist Malamud. Thomas Kautsky discusses the factual provenance of St. Urbain's Horseman (Bantam, 1972) and, in an exceptionally wide-ranging essay, which calls on Boswell's Life of Johnson and Kafka's The Trial, Wilfrid Cude makes a bold case for the same novel as a classic discussion of the dilemmas of the artist in mid-career. The high quality of the essays is let down a trifle for the want of central and unifying support; one evident point of discussion that emerges from these varying approaches is the surprising accommodation Richler achieves between the fantastic and the factual. Darling's introduction and biographical outline does not attempt any synthesis and remains on the sketchy side. Presumably the title Perspectives has been chosen to emphasize the incomplete nature of critical judgment on a novelist still living and, we trust, full of books to come. Richler can be a difficult writer to get hold of and unquestionably these interpretive essays will prove useful to students at high school and university.

Alan Thomas, Scarborough College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
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