The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

This edition printed in:

A tortoiseshell kitten peeks around The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.

The Post Christmas Relax

Virtual celebrations are over and the presents are all opened. The cats have happily played in all of the recyclable wrapping paper, and the furoshiki and re-usable ribbons have all been put away. Now I have the next week of holidays stretching out in front of me with minimal work and lots of time spent with my lovely spouse. We play video games, watch movies, and talk about what happened in the last year.

And this year a lot has happened. The pandemic has brought with it lockdowns, and new normals, and a lot of watching the news and worrying about it. It hasn’t been an easy year for anyone. I hope that next year will be a bit less of a rollercoaster and that someday the new normal will go back to the old normal. Until then, I wish you all the best of the holiday season and hope that you have a Happy New Year, however you’re celebrating it.

A tortoiseshell kitten peeks over The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.

In January, Old Paper & Cats reviews will have the theme of New Year, Old Books — where I plan on reading some of the oldest books in my stacks and reviewing them.

The Consequences of Avarice

Mordecai Richler’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is a novel about the rise and various falls of the young Duddy Kravitz, whose purpose in life is to buy a chunk of land to make his fortune on. The book is one about the ruthlessness and all-consuming nature of greed as well as the eventual consequences of leading a life driven by monetary gain. Kravitz ends up alone as he hurts and alienates everyone he holds dear. I won’t give away the ending, but I’ll warn you that it’s nothing like Ebenezer Scrooge’s and there are no warm fuzzies involved.

A tortoiseshell kitten lies behind The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.

Humour and Tragedy

Richler weaves humour into his narratives so that even if the story is a depressing one, there are still points where the reader laughs until they cry, wipes their eyes, and then keeps laughing. Duddy Kravitz is no exception to this, though I will warn that for a modern audience some of the humour can be a bit of a relic from the past.

There’s a certain grit to Richler’s writing and humour that gives the novel life and illustrates its point, but is right on the line of going a step too far — especially for modern sensibilities. Sometimes, due to the author’s ahead-of-his-time technique, it can be difficult to remember that this book was published over sixty years ago.

A calico tabby sits beside The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.

A Word on the Work of Mordecai Richler

Richler is an author whose technique I admire a good deal. He has a way of weaving a story that has so many layers and moods and twists and turns that all come together in a way that is always harmonious and never cacophonous. He chooses his words and tone carefully and his pace always compels the reader to keep reading — being neither too slow nor too fast with that little dash of racing in just the right moments.

He is also the master of foreshadowing and the right amount of hinting in the narrative. Often dropping hints to the end at the beginning in a way that is never obvious, but always makes sense exactly when it’s supposed to.

A tortoiseshell kitten makes a grimace as she yawns.

A Blanket of Snow

So, we had a white Christmas this year. It was magical to watch the snow fall on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Then it just kept right on snowing all through Boxing Day as well. Over 50cm of the fluffy stuff is on the ground and everything is blanketed in white. It makes the indoors even cozier than they would be normally.

It also makes me want to curl up on my chair and usher in the latest lockdown with a good dose of reading all of the new books that my lovely spouse has gifted me this Christmas. She went overboard this year. So much so that we spent Boxing Day trying to find places for all of the new additions to my reading pile. The answer? My stack took over a shelf in the sitting room and there is a brand-new stack against the wall and another brand-new stack next to my chair which is just higher than the cushions.

A tortoiseshell kitten sits beside The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.

After the chaos of the rest of 2020, I am looking forward to the last week of it — spent with my lovely spouse and my books and the quiet of the snow outside blanketing the world and softening some of its edges and its noise.

The fireplace channel is going to be on constantly for the next few days, just to take the cosiness up a decided notch.

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