"The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz"

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler

Duddy Kravitz is a Jewish boy growing up in Montreal. He and his brother are raised by a single father, a taxi driver, and Duddy has a burning drive to be somebody, to make money and have influence. He will do whatever he must to to get where he wants to be, and it doesn't matter who he has to lie to, take advantage of or hurt. He's a jerk. With a foul mouth. And not much of a conscience.

I didn't enjoy this book. There are a lot of reasons why I should have: it's by a Canadian authour and set in Canada, it got great reviews when it was published (1959), it was made into a movie that was nominated for an Oscar in 1975, and it's been in the back of my mind for decades as a book I should read soon. Somewhere I read that this is "the novel that established Mordecai Richler as one of the world's best comic writers", so I was expecting to laugh. Boy was I disappointed. 

It's a good story in that it's realistic and honest, showing us a slice of life that many would never see otherwise. It's well written with sub-plots enough to be interesting. It's easy to read. I think my problem is that I didn't ever get invested in any of the characters. There are fifteen or so of them, but I didn't like any of them. There were a couple of spots where I was so sick of Duddy's soulless arrogance (and bad language) that I wanted to quit, but this is one of the books I'm reading for the Canadian Thirteen challenge so I stuck it out.

I'm not sorry I read it, but I'm glad I'm done. I can't really recommend it.


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