Sunday, January 27, 2019
Mordecai Richler And Social Justice Publishing
First there’s THIS
Good piece, clearly written and laying out a sad case for the proposition that an identitarian sensibility is smothering creativity.
Mordecai Richler, maybe Canada’s greatest novelist, and if not that, then at least right up there, is—I say “is” because his work lives on—is an unPC writer and was this as a person, sardonic, satiric, biting, who calls out nonsense when he sees it and calls it as he sees it. He’s an equal opportunity putter-downer. I wonder how he’d fare today.
Here’s a non untypical bit, I think from Duddy Kravitz or maybe Son Of A Smaller Hero, which is also about lower middle class Jews in Montreal in the fifties:
two Jewish regular guys are cracking wise:
“Berkowitz: ‘Hey, Feldman, what do you call a pint sized Eskimo with a hard on?’
Feldman: ‘I dunno, why don’t you tell me Berkowitz.’
Berkowitz: ‘A frigid midget, with a rigid digit.’”
Now, this obviously isn’t a put down of Inuit. It’s a rendering of how certain regular street guys authentically joked around in the late fifties. It helps give the novel texture as it helps fill in the living, pulsing setting. If it is from Son Of A Smaller Hero, then it’s from a good book written on the way to a really good novelist finding himself. If it’s from Duddy Kravitz—The Apprenticeship Of—then it’s from a novelist who hit his stride and wrote one of the best novels ever written by a Canadian writer.
Could Richler get such stuff published today? Could he write his books filled with the smashing of mad progressivism—Cocksure, with the use of an Eskimo anti hero to lacerate gone mad consumer culture and flagellate self important Canadian mediocrities who took themselves entirely too seriously—The Incomaprable Atuk, with the lampooning of all manner of absurd politically correct ills in the world—St.Urbain’s Horseman? In fact in what he bit into and chewed up, Richler is prescient, his antennae foreshadowing today’s social justice world gone mad.
If Tara Nykforiak’s indictment is far going enough such that Richler today couldn get such stuff published in Canada, then that measures how crippling and cloistered is today’s identitarian sensibility. And that holds true as well even his work could get published today, but only after much difficulty.