14 January 2010

One Book Wonder?

I've been reading Kicking Tomorrow, Daniel Richler's literary debut, published nearly two decades ago by McClelland and Stewart. Like many a first novel, it's a coming of age story... and, the author being several years older than myself, provides glimpses of a heady, trippy Anglo-Montreal scene that I just missed. I like Kicking Tomorrow, find much to admire in Richler's writing, and I want more. So, a question nags: Where is Richer's second novel? Don't get me wrong, hardly anyone has one novel in them, never mind two, it's just that the author's bio tells us to expect another.

The last I saw of "Daniel Richler, novelist" was in a 1996 episode of The Newsroom. Five years after Kicking Tomorrow was published, and it seems Richler is still obliged to do publicity. Here he has to put up with a brain-numbing interview with anchor Jim Walcott (Peter Keleghan), which in turn leads to this rant leveled at executive producer George Findlay (Ken Finkleman):

RICHLER: First, I said I would come on this show on the condition that my father is not mentioned. Not only does he mention my father, but he obsesses over this Morde-kai, Morde-hai shit. I mean, he's a fucking idiot.
FINDLAY: I know he's an idiot, but you were great. You were great.
RICHLER: The only thing he knows about my novel are the number of pages that are in it. Did he count that himself, or did somebody do that for him? Then he goes on about I took a shot at fiction. I did not take a fucking shot at fiction. I wrote a fucking novel for which I received a substantial fucking advance.
Will someone not give this man another substantial fucking advance?

Trivia: During the interview, Walcott holds up the shorter American edition, but gives the Canadian page count: "... and has taken a shot at fiction himself with a new book, which I haven't read yet, but I hear is terrific. Uh, what is it? 370... 376 pages. Almost 400 pages."

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  1. I need to read this now. I enjoyed Emma Richler's debut, too. And it reminds me of a pretty snide shot the Australian novelist Barry Oakley took at Mordecai Richler. In one of his novels ('Don't Leave Me', 2002), the author-narrator attends a dinner party at which Richler is present, and spends a lot of time complaining about how rude, graceless and monosyllabic Richler is. Given that Richler had only just died, this seemed pretty graceless in itself.

  2. Richler had a bit of a reputation as an unapproachable curmudgeon, though I'm told by several who knew him as an acquaintance or more that he was a warm man who just couldn't take to the demands placed on the modern author... readings, signings and the like. I had the pleasure of meeting the man several times - never anything more intimate than a cocktail party - and can report that he was nothing more or less than polite. Speaking as a reader, he is very much missed.