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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I grew to like this oneFeb. 29 2012
Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews
- Published on Amazon.com
***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.
6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A journal by the every-day RichlerNov. 8 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
As an Arab and a former Montréaler with an interest in the Middle East, I was looking forward to reading this book. Besides the joy of reading about the city's past I found interesting how Diaspora Jewish communities dealt with their place as Jews in Western societies and with Zionism since and before the establishment of Israel.
It was fascinating to see how closely-knit (or self-obsessed?) Jewish communities were. Through his childhood, Richler only seems to interact with Jews (as do other members of his community), only getting access to the real world when he leaves Montreal and his conservative community. Having been raised there, Richler had spoken better Hebrew than French.
Richler also reveals, as he discovers himself, that Zionism is not as rosy as it is perceived. Much of the Zionist 'training' Jews received is implied to be a sort of brain-washing, promoting the idea of Palestine as a 'land without people for a people without land'. The strong Zionist solidarity among children, as well as patriotism for a land they had never seen, could not have come without it.
His critical attitude towards Zionism and recognition of what he sees as the need for Jews to have a place to call home comes together to make a good read. This book is not overly political or disturbingly ideological. It's just Richler in an average person's shoes.