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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating collision two very different worlds.
This is a weird book, weird in the sense that two parts of life I always considered separate somehow manifest themselves into this one volume and I found it very hard reconciling my visions of Mordecai Richler as a working class Jewish, smoked meat sandwich eating hustler from St. Urbain Street in Montreal with the waistcoats, bow ties and bottled water that is the...
Published on Aug. 13 2011 by Paolo

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1.0 out of 5 stars GIVE IT A PASS: No one who loves snooker should ever buy this book, own this book or read this book
First off, I LOVE snooker. Have loved it for decades. And truly loved it. It's a beautiful and interesting game. And there was a time when Canada was a force in this game.

And this author, RIchler, a Canadian, and supposed "snooker lover" has written a book based on two things: (1) his snooker playing days in his life, which is fair enough. Although if...
Published 6 months ago by AJA Bram Janse


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1.0 out of 5 stars GIVE IT A PASS: No one who loves snooker should ever buy this book, own this book or read this book, June 11 2014
This review is from: On Snooker (Paperback)
First off, I LOVE snooker. Have loved it for decades. And truly loved it. It's a beautiful and interesting game. And there was a time when Canada was a force in this game.

And this author, RIchler, a Canadian, and supposed "snooker lover" has written a book based on two things: (1) his snooker playing days in his life, which is fair enough. Although if I want to be truthful it's badly disjointed and badly written for what should be a more talented author; and (2) the lives and professional careers of famous snooker players. Here is where I take issue. The "facts" here are largely heresay if not almost wholly heresay. He doesn't KNOW these players. He just watched a lot of it on TV and put into his book his own version of warmed over stories of which he had no knowledge first hand. He talks and tells the events like he KNOWS. But he was not there.

The one exception to his not having first hand knowledge was when he sat down for a meal with Cliff Thorburn. And he retells the conversation complete with all of Cliff's "ums" in place. Cliff has a verbal tic that sometimes comes out in a conversation. Need this be so cruelly brought to light for those who didn't know it? Is it relevant? Does that have ANYTHING to do with his undeniable snooker talent? I'll tell you exactly what it is. It is nothing short of a blatant personal attack on Canada's most famous player: the 1980 WORLD CHAMPION, a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and a member of the Order of Canada. This best thing that ever happened to snooker in Canada is Cliff Thorburn and this is what Richler does to him? Ridicules a personal affliction? Have some respect. Richler has no call to do that. It's deeply offensive to anyone who respects the game and who respects our best player's achievements in it. It's the lowest common denominator and it's unforgivable. It's pure and simple garbage.

There’s no escaping the fact that IF YOU LOVE SNOOKER you would be OFFENDED by this book. This is absolutely NOT the book you want to own if you want to read about snooker in Canada, or snooker in general. And it's not only Cliff, it is DEEPLY OFFENSIVE to many people. It reads unkind and vindictive to everyone in it and he should never have written it. Certainly he cannot claim he LOVES the game if all he does is badmouth these "so called colourful characters" . And I don't deny that some of these individuals have had issues. Issues that became public. Which is how Richler got the info in the first place. If it didn't make headlines he doesn't know about it. He wasn't there. He wasn't around the world snooker events, on the tour getting to know these people he talks about. He just pretends so. He means it to read like HE WAS IN THE KNOW - but he was not.

Mordaci Richler. We had to study his books in school here in Canada. Some very big works: “the Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” (made into a movie years ago with Dustin Hoffman). Perhaps he got too old to know better, perhaps he never wrote this at all as it was near the end of his life. Maybe he wrote about himself and someone decided it wouldn't sell (an astute observation) and perhaps someone else wrote the rest of it for him. Either way, he should never have let it be published. And if he really couldn't stop himself, he should have left it at his own personal reminiscences and left alone the lives and careers of people he doesn't know but so easily and maliciously passes judgement on. Those same people to whom he owes a thank you for making the game what became in this country. IF he truly loved the game as he says he does. But he thanks neither them nor the game for that matter. He disrespects all. It's shameful.

And don't for a second let these statements urge you to be so curious you invest in buying the book to check. I bought it when it first came out all those years ago and it's been in my garbage for long time now. Go a library or get it online bootleg. I am sure you can find it. Because if you really love snooker, particularly Canadian snooker, and you find it and read it you will be SORRY if you put any money into Richler's estate or his publisher's pocket for this work.

This is not a book about the LOVE of snooker. This is a book that goes out of it's way to point out everything negative that ever happened and a lot of things that certainly did NOT happen, at least in the way he tells it. It's irresponsible journalism.

If you're a true snooker lover, it deserves neither your time your money. It is nothing. And it deserves no further attention.

If you really want to read a great snooker book - check Jimmy White: Behind the White Ball. A brilliant memoir. Thoroughly entertaining and a storytelling masterpiece from someone who really does know what he's talking about. And interestingly, (but not surprising if you know Jimmy) he doesn't have to trash anyone to get attention. That's money well spent. Buy that instead.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating collision two very different worlds., Aug. 13 2011
By 
Paolo (Toronto) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This is a weird book, weird in the sense that two parts of life I always considered separate somehow manifest themselves into this one volume and I found it very hard reconciling my visions of Mordecai Richler as a working class Jewish, smoked meat sandwich eating hustler from St. Urbain Street in Montreal with the waistcoats, bow ties and bottled water that is the professional snooker circuit in Britain.

Richler's book details the origins of the game and the word itself and goes into the lives of some of the characters of the game. Alex Higgins man seemingly wrought on self-destruction, Jimmy White who seems to have done pretty well for himself despite his perennial loser tag, the successful but largely ignored Canadian Cliff Thorburn, the less successful but much more of a cause célèbre in Kirk Stevens. He, however, does not place his loyalty where the drama lies as it seems most fans do, he pins all his hopes on Stephen Hendry winning that one more world championship.

What is more interesting is why Richler is a fan himself. Richler tells us that 'North American literary men in general, and the Jewish writers among them in particular, have always been obsessed by sports. We acquire the enthusiasm as kids and carry it with us into middle age and beyond, adjudging it far more enjoyable than lots of other baggage we still lug around. Arguably we settled for writing, a sissy's game, because we couldn't "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee," pitch a curveball, catch, deke, score a touchdown.'

I want Richler's life. He spent half his year wintering in England living in an apartment in Chelsea (an was hence able to follow the snooker) and the other half in Canada spending his summers on Lake Memphremagog. I feel that we would have gotten on very well, Hendry was my favourite player, I also have an irrational dislike towards Stephen Lee. If you know snooker then this book won't tell you too much that you didn't already know but my image of Richler is now radically altered. I particularly like his reasons for why Snooker gave him hope and I shall end on that:

"Look at it this way: if Higgins could make a maximum, or David Cone pitch a perfect baseball game, then just maybe, against all odds, a flawless novel was possible. I can't speak for other writers, but I always start out pledged to a dream of perfection, a novel that will be free of clunky sentences or passages forced in the hothouse, but it's never the case. Each novel is a failure of sorts. No matter how many drafts I go through, there will always be compromises here and there, pages that will make me wince when I read them years later. But if Higgins could achieve perfection, maybe, next time out, I could too."
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On Snooker
On Snooker by Mordecai Richler (Paperback - June 25 2002)
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