In Conversation With Other Books

StUrbains HorsemanI’ve been thinking about what to write concerning St. Urbain’s Horseman by Mordecai Richler. It makes for strange reading, partly because I’ve been reading snippets here and there which makes the book feel a bit disjointed. Mostly though, the book has a strange feel to it because of the way it bounces around. I mentioned before that the narration went back and forth between prose and movie scripts, but it’s more than that. It’s almost as if the book is teasing you with what it knows…

As you read you slowly find out details about the story line, like why Jake is in the middle of a trial or the importance of his cousin Joey to the story. However, unlike other novels, this one gives out a small piece of information and instantly bounces on to something else. It’s almost like an easily distracted stream of consciousness. I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about this novel that feels like it’s everywhere at once and that last sentence sums it up pretty well. It bounces from character to character, from the present to the past and back again.

I’m enjoying the experience so far, especially because it feels like something I haven’t read before, while simultaneously reminding me of a novel I read last year for a class. Titled Missing and written by Alberto Fuguet, the novel narrates Alberto’s search for his uncle Carlos who had disappeared without a trace years before. Carlos was something of a black sheep in the Chilean family and, when he disappeared, everyone just accepted it without really looking for him.

Missing reminds me of Richler’s novel in that there is this character, uncle Carlos, who has had a huge influence in another’s life, Alberto, and who becomes a main, essential character without really being there. In St. Urbain’s Horseman cousin Joey is a part of Jake’s past, but he’s not there as the actions of the novel unfold. Joey is a central figure in Jake’s memories and imaginings, but he isn’t a real part of Jake’s life. Mind you, it’s still early in the novel so all this might change later.

I’m always endlessly pleased when I feel like my books can have a conversation between them. It’s a nice feeling, I think.

Stay classy, readers!

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