Essential Canlit from William Weintraub

Iconic Canadian author Mordechai Richler figures prominently in Getting Started: A Memoir of the 1950s, by William (“Why Rock the Boat?”) Weintraub (McClelland & Stewart, 1999). As a young print and radio journalist stationed in Europe, Weintraub kept up a lively correspondence with Richler, Mavis Gallant and Brian Moore during a period of heightened literary creativity for all of them.

Getting Started is an immensely readable memoir about friendship and the craft of writing, and delivers many fresh glimpses and revelations. Regarding his first novel The Acrobats (1954), which Richler himself later regarded as flawed, he wrote to Weintraub that the Liverpool Jewish Gazette had chosen not to review it.

“They’ve returned a copy of my book with a letter. They said their reviewer could only review the bk in the most scathing terms. So perhaps they’d better just give the bk back. Honest.”

As Weintraub notes, it was one of many instances in which the Jewish press would remain unappreciative of Richler’s comic compulsion to wash Jewish dirty laundry in public.♦

© 2001