Sunday, October 14, 2018

Mordecai Richler’s Belling the Cat

Book Review

Belling the Cat: Essays, Reports & Opinions (1998)by Mordecai Richler [1931–2001], a Montreal native who grew up in the working-class streets of the Mile End neighborhood, as I did a generation later. Such lessons and the memories they create never leave you; they remain and speak in your ear. 
Photo Credit: ©2018. Perry J. Greenbaum

The further one finds himself from good and great writing, both temporally and spatially, the better one appreciates it when it is close at hand. Such is the case when one dips his mind into Mordecai Richler’s essays, which highlight and discusss the absurdity of modern western life that all too often, over time and repetition, passes for and becomes the accepted norm; and in contrast the truth (and the reality it both protects and projects) becomes buried, hidden and forgotten. Richler, with his trained eye for nonsense, notably of the social and political kind, rightfully and faithfully employs his caustic wit—aimed squarely at the nincompoops and dolts who are as bland as toast, yet "evil in their acts of omission and commission"—to uncover, unearth and raise the truth out of the deep dark pit of confusion. Satire involves both the heart and the mind. Reading Richler’s essays are a good reminder of humor that makes us think, and, perhaps, provoke us to act in a moral fashion. But first comes the thinking, preferably one placed in a moral frame of reference emanating from the long history of western civilization, whose purpose is to differentiate right from wrong. Richler was, without question, one of Canada’s finest writers, and he was as courageous as he was honest; his death in July 2001 left a gaping hole in the realm of political and social commentary. To see what I mean, read this collection of essays; and for more on Richler, go [here], [here] and [here].

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