ST. URBAIN'S HORSEMAN by Mordecai Richler


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An untidy profusion of flashbacks fill in the career and concerns of rugged Jake Hersh, Canadian expatriate in London, film director, happily married with kids; and about to be docked for a morals charge. It seems that Jake, who had stumbled into a kooky friendship with one Harry Stein, a Cockney gutter rat of some enterprise, had been accused of unnatural acts with a German au pair girl. Before the not-so-awful or fulfilling truth is revealed, Jake's past is disinterred: the breakaway from the provincial Canadian mishpocheh; a rocky climb in films; marriage out of the faith: and, continuing through the years, hero-worship of his cousin Joey. in Jake's dreams, Joey is The Horseman, a kind of 20th-century golem, fighting in all good wars, but above all protecting the Jews from enemies past and present. But Joey was, perhaps, also a thief, con man, exploiter of women, mobster and two-bit actor. Jake's escape with just a fine from the court case, and a notice of Joey's death, happen almost simultaneously along with the discovery that Joey's gun (a cherished memento) held blanks. Now in his dreams Jake is the Horseman. As the narrative weaves unsteadily on its rather dim course, there are moments of broad farce, snappy dialogue, and some sterling originals, but it gallops beyond consciousness fast, unreined and unschooled.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1971
Publisher: Knopf