This is the story of Barney Panofsky, or better, his autobiography. Did you say autobiography? But the author has a different name! Yes, you are right, this is indeed a story in a story. Some say that Barney is the alter ego of Richler, but the author has never confirmed this theory. So here starts already the brilliancy of the book!
The book is structured in three parts, one for each wife of Barney: Clara, the artistic wife; the second Panofsky's wife, whose name will never be declared; and Miriam, the only true love of Barney.
Between a glass of whisky and one of cognac Barney would try to describe his life in chronological order, but the intent is very soon lost with the many digressions and memories that are brought continuously in the book.
After few pages it would be already clear that Barney is selfish, drunken, misogynist, chauvinist, social climber and more...
But still I could not avoid to love him (and neither would you) and to want to have a whisky with him, talking about love and life.
Yes love, not the right person to discuss with, you say? Oh well, how to tell that you are wrong: his first wife killed herself in depression and he doesn't even dare to give the identity of his second wife, but Miriam, oh Miriam, I want to be loved as she was (and I am by the way). Barney is simply drunk in love, and yes also of lots of alcohol, and this part in the love matter would obviously create him a lot of problems.
The leitmotif of the book is the presumable killing of his best friend Boogie. The first intent of the book is indeed to defend himself for the murder accuse. Between digressions and memories Barney will eventually give his version of the fact. Will the society believe him? And would you? The reading will tell...and trust me you will laugh, a lot, but don't get surprised if all of a sudden you would just like to cry.
Thanks Richler, I really needed this!
I read a lot of crazy, brilliant reviews on this book, and please do as well.
Next on the list is to watch the movie, I might get highly disappointed, but I want to take the risk.
Sorry for this confusing, crazy review, but I wouldn't know how to describe better this book.
I would suggest to read the book with this soundtrack , from an Italian musician, who recently passed away.
At the next book...