Large Print Reviews
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
By Mordecai Richler
Narrated by Paul Hecht
Reviewed by Anna Dogole - April 8, 2005
Mordecai Richler has long been known for his quirky Jewish humor and richly detailed characters. His first major success came with his novel, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which was published in 1959. This is a lively account of the rise to fame of a most unlikely hero - Duddy Kravitz. As a young boy, Duddy was told by his grandfather, that the measure of a man was the amount of land he owned. So Duddy sets out to become the biggest man he can. By hook, and by crook, he sets about collecting land deeds like some collect baseball cards. By the end of this comic tragedy, Duddy achieves his goal, but he's a failure just the same.
Duddy is obnoxious, he's a liar, and he's amoral. You know that you should despise him, and you really want to, but you just can't. In Duddy, Richler has created a character that you just love to hate, which is part of the humor of this story. Duddy is like a car accident you pass on the road, you don't want to look for fear of what you might see, but you find it hard not to take at least a peak. Avarice and ambition are the hallmarks of Duddy character, and he is willing to be abusive and destroy every vestige of love and friendship that is ever shown to him in pursuit of his dream. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is, at its heart, a parable, and in the end, the self-deprecating anti-hero Duddy gets what he deserves, but even while you are laughing at his misfortune, you can't help but feel sorry for this wretched man.
Like his protagonist, Richler (1931 - 2001) grew up in a Jewish, working-class neighborhood in Montreal, and he aptly brings this vibrant Jewish community to life within the pages of this novel. The main focus of this story is Duddy's ambitions and how he allows his ambitions to damage his relationship with his family and friends. Told with humor and well seasoned with satire, this story also touches lightly on some darker issues such as antisemitism, intergenerational conflict, and the dichotomy between religious orthodoxy and modernity.
In 1980, CBC Radio aired an abridged version of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. This abridgement was penned by Richler, and narrated by the Paul Hecht. This BTC Audio Books edition of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is an archival recording of the 1980 broadcast, complete with original musical score and sound effects. A movie version of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz was released in 1974, and in 1987, a stage production of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz appeared on Broadway.
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- The Spare Room, By Mordecai Richler.
In this tale we are introduced to the Hirshes, a patriotic Jewish-Canadian family who wants to help out the war effort by taking in boarders. (Audio)
- Lies My Father Told Me, by Ted Allan and Never Had it so Good, by Charles Israel.
Two vintage radio plays on two audio cassettes. The first play is a story of intergenerational conflict, and a young boy's coming of age in the Montreal of the 1920's. The second radio play, Never Had it so Good, centers around a group of concentration camp survivors and their desire to move to Israel and form a Kibbutz, a goal that is in danger of being thwarted by an anti-Semitic American Army Colonel. (Audio)
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