Picks and Pans Review: Home Sweet Home

UPDATED 07/02/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/02/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Mordecai Richler

For years if any magazine editor in New York wanted an article about anything in Canada, the first writer he called was Mordecai Richler, author of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and nine other books. This volume consists mainly of the articles that resulted from those calls. Perhaps because he lived in London for 20 years before he returned to Canada in 1972, Richler's view of his homeland is anything but provincial, and he is certainly versatile. He can make the Frenchification of Montreal, his hometown, almost comprehensible to an outsider. An essay titled "Pages From a Western Journal" is a model of travel writing—a crisp diary about a trip through Western Canada that is a marvel of economy and image making. In "Bedlam in Bytown" the author describes a Western Day parade in Ottawa thus: "Tatty. Forlorn. Paunchy men on horseback. Broadbottomed girls wearing glasses with shell half-frames flinging their Stetsons in the air, crying yah-hoo and yippee to no visible effect..." Yes, Richler is funny, but he can also be touching, especially in the autobiographical pieces, such as his moving tribute, "My Father's Life." This book could be a crash course in getting to know Canada. It is also splendid entertainment. (Knopf, $16.95)

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