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The Book Room, Issue 38

The season's best reads.

In Mordecai: The Life & Times (Knopf), Charles Foran trails Quebec's most famous anglophone from Montreal to Europe and back, scratching away Mordecai Richler's hard shell and uncovering the inspiration for great works like Barney's Version. "Fundamentally, all writing is about the same thing; it's about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates," Richler once said. Mordecai brilliantly captures that flicker; it's Foran holding a match to Richler's ever-present cigar. Highly recommended.

In Where We Might Have Been (Véhicule), Don Coles lays out poems both contemplative and simple, searching "among the queues of years" with plain-spoken confidence. Now eighty-three, the Governor General's Award-winning poet remembers best buds, bucktoothed blondes and "a darkhaired glistening-eyed precocity" with an immediacy that outpaces nostalgia. "The word 'plangency' has tempted me / more than once but I've resisted it ...

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