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Canadian author (1931-2001)

The revolution eats its own. Capitalism recreates itself.


Nothing is absolute any longer. There is a choice of beliefs and a choice of truths to go with them. If you choose not to choose then there is no truth at all. There are only points of view.

MORDECAI RICHLER, Son of a Smaller Hero

Well, when I was a young writer the people we read were Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Sartre, Camus, Celine, Malraux. And to begin with, I was a bit of a copycat writer and very derivative and tried to write a novel using their voices, really.... I keep it out of print.

MORDECAI RICHLER, 1989 interview, Brick 81

Each man creates god in his own image.

MORDECAI RICHLER, Son of a Smaller Hero

I must speak the truth, even at the risk of being ostracized by my fellow scribblers. In fact, anticipating their rage, I have already applied for a place in the Canada Council's witness-protection program. This because, much as it pains me to turn on my kind, I fear the time has come to admit that far too many celebrated writers were outrageous liars, philanderers, drunks, druggies, unsuitable babysitters, plagiarists, psychopaths, parasites, cowards, indifferent dads or moms and bad credit risks.

MORDECAI RICHLER, "Don't Look to Writers for Morality Lessons," National Post, May 5, 2001

There are three sides to every argument. Yours. The other guy's. And the right side.

MORDECAI RICHLER, Son of a Smaller Hero

This is an age of scientific wonders. You miss somebody so you pick up the phone to say hello. Three minutes for sixty-five cents. Nobody goes broke.

MORDECAI RICHLER, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

Well, people have been wondering what’s going to happen to the novel for two hundred years; its death has been announced many times. You know, I think the novel keeps redefining the world we live in. What you should look for in a novel is a window nobody else is looking out of, that nobody else can look through. What you look for is a voice. You pick up a novel by someone such as Faulkner or Hemingway and you just read three pages and you know who wrote it. And that’s what one should demand of a novelist.

MORDECAI RICHLER, 1989 interview, Brick 81

Fundamentally, all writing is about the same thing. It's about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration it creates.

MORDECAI RICHLER, attributed, Mordecai & Me (Yanofsky, 2003)

I'm world-famous ... all over Canada.

MORDECAI RICHLER, The Incomparable Atuk

I have always been skeptical of medical orthodoxies, because sooner, rather than later, so many of them are turned on their heads. Or, put another way, providing you are prepared to wait it out, what was adjudged bad for you yesterday is likely to prove beneficial today.

MORDECAI RICHLER, National Post, May 27, 2000

Work, work, work for all these years, and what is my reward? Calculated insults. Stinging slaps in the face. While I continue to struggle to earn a living in my declining years, churning out weekly columns for a pittance, teenage pop thingee Britney Spears, threatening to write a first novel, with a little help from her mummy, has pre-sold her scribble for a 500,000 pounds sterling publisher's advance in the U.K. and a reported cool million U.S. from Random House in New York. To be fair, my only protruding curve is my belly, and for all I know we are on the verge of witnessing the debut of a second Jane Austen.

MORDECAI RICHLER, "In for a Penny, In for a Pound," National Post, Apr. 7, 2001

Canada is not so much a country as a holding tank filled with the disgruntled progeny of defeated peoples. French-Canadians consumed by self-pity; the descendants of Scots who fled the Duke of Cumberland; Irish, the famine; and Jews, the Black Hundreds. Then there are the peasants from Ukraine, Poland, Italy and Greece, convenient to grow wheat and dig out the ore and swing the hammers and run the restaurants, but otherwise to be kept in their place. Most of us are huddled tight to the border, looking into the candy store window, scared of the Americans on one side and of the bush on the other.

MORDECAI RICHLER, New Criterion, Sep. 2001

The long frugal years of study and scholarships, of frayed jackets and hand rolled cigarettes, were behind him. He had consumed the books. But who knows at what cost?

MORDECAI RICHLER, Son of a Smaller Hero

Canada is one of the few places left where the small decencies are observed. If, as a young man, I was scornful of the country because we always seemed so far behind style-setting New York, I now thank God for the cultural lag. Ours, after all, is the good neighbourhood. A society well worth preserving.

MORDECAI RICHLER, Life Magazine, Apr. 9, 1971

Beauty, like male ballet dancers, makes some men afraid.

MORDECAI RICHLER, Son of a Smaller Hero

I don't hold with shamans, witch doctors, or psychiatrists. Shakespeare, Tolstoy, or even Dickens, understood more about the human condition than ever occurred to any of you. You overrated bunch of charlatans deal with the grammar of human problems, and the writers I've mentioned with the essence.

MORDECAI RICHLER, Barney's Version

In, 1950, at the age, 19 I dropped out of St. George William College in Montreal, as it then was, and sailed for England on the Franconia. Foolishly, no arrogantly, believing I could put Canada and its picayune problems behind me, never dreaming it would become the raw material of most of my fiction and non-fiction. Or that I would care so deeply about its surviving intact.

MORDECAI RICHLER, Stanley Knowles lecture, University of Waterloo, Mar. 23, 1999

Everybody writes a book too many.

MORDECAI RICHLER, "Sayings of the Week," The Observor, Jan. 9, 1985


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