***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***
This was a difficult one for me. It could be because it took me longer to read it than normal (i.e., 2 weeks) which probably resulted in me taking longer to get into the story. When I was about 1/3 in, I was resolved to give it 2.5 stars, but as I read on and got more into it, I began to really get engaged.
One thing is undeniable: Mordecai Richler is a brilliant writer. Barney, the main character of the book, is richly developed. In fact, this is what caused the struggle within myself: I absolutely detested the main character. I found him pathetic and unlikeable to the extent that I decided it was ok to not like a book simply because I couldn't stand the main character. But, as reluctant as I am to admit this: he grew on me to the extent that it wasn't about him being unlikeable, so much as I could have sympathy for the circumstances of his life.
So, at the end of the day, there are some incredibly funny moments in the book and I would recommend this book because the writing itself and the development of the main character (in narration) is outstanding. Richler really made the characters come to life.
One last note is that I have to say that the resolution that comes at the end of the book was something I felt was necessary. I don't think I could not have made a 4 star rating without that resolution.