St. Urbain's Horseman
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St. Urbain’s Horseman is a complex, moving, and wonderfully comic evocation of a generation consumed with guilt – guilt at not joining every battle, at not healing every wound. Thirty-seven-year-old Jake Hersh is a film director of modest success, a faithful husband, and a man in disgrace. His alter ego is his cousin Joey, a legend in their childhood neighbourhood in Montreal. Nazi-hunter, adventurer, and hero of the Spanish Civil War, Joey is the avenging horseman of Jake’s impotent dreams. When Jake becomes embroiled in a scandalous trial in London, England, he puts his own unadventurous life on trial as well, finding it desperately wanting as he steadfastly longs for the Horseman’s glorious return. Irreverent, deeply felt, as scathing in its critique of social mores as it is uproariously funny, St. Urbain’s Horseman confirms Mordecai Richler’s reputation as a pre-eminent observer of the hypocrisies and absurdities of modern life.
From the Hardcover edition.
Jake teased Harry into an invitation to his flat, insisting he needed another drink but actually determined to see how he lived. The cry of birds from Regent’s Park Zoo could be heard in Harry’s three-room basement flat, comprised of a kitchen, sitting room, and bedroom, photographic equipment lying everywhere, the bathroom also serving as a dark room. The bed was unmade, the sheets unspeakable, a sticky jam jar, bread, and a knife on the bedside table. Stacks of dishes drifted in the kitchen
pleasure, Stein seemed to calm down. She hoped that he would pass out, she could retrieve her clothes, and flee. So imagine her consternation when Hersh arrived and instead of the games breaking off, they were to take an even more unpleasant turn.” Mr. Pound described the games, such as they were, calling the jury’s attention once more to the saddle and riding crop kept by a man who was no equestrian himself. He told them how Hersh, seizing Miss Loebner by the hair, had forced his erect penis
medicine, from Maimonides to Leonard Hyman Jacobson, Toronto’s outspoken child psychologist. This, and specimen pages from further essays, Duddy had reproduced, under headings in Old English print, on the most luxuriant paper he could get without paying, by writing off to England for sample rolls, ostensibly soliciting a Canadian franchise for the sheets. Meanwhile, after riding the fall in uranium shares, as scare stories proliferated, Duddy called his baffled broker again, took his profit in
thirty-eight candles. Would that be too much trouble? Then Harry patiently sought out a functioning call box, extracted his little black book and selected the ex-directory number of a star who had sent him out of the office and into the rain earlier in the day – “Aren’t you a sweetie?” – to fetch a pair of theater tickets while she waited, long shaven legs crossed, for an audience with His Holiness Father Hoffman. “Hullo, my little darlin’.” “I’m so glad to hear from you again.” Icily
more. I burned every single letter. He hated your family, you know, and he was also a liar.” “What letters did you burn?” “Who are you snooping for, you have to know everything?” “Nobody.” “I have nothing against the Hershes and I’m very, very grateful for their help, if only it were more.” “Yes, I understand. But did he say anything else? Please, it’s frightfully important to me.” “He was fond of saying that if the Hershes had been in the Old City, in forty-eight, they would have been the