Barney’s Version – The Life of a Trice Married Canadian

Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler is an autobiography written by Barney Panofsky, a Jewish Canadian living in Montreal. He separates his story into three sections, one for each of his ex-wives. His first section on his ex-wife Clara spans from 1950-1952, from the day they meet to her suicide. He then goes moves onto his second wife, who is only known as the second Mrs. Panofsky. He is only married to his second wife for two years of his life from 1958-1960 as she is found to be cheating on him with his best friend. Barney is later accused of murdering this best friend, Boogie. His third and final wife is married to him for almost 30 years. Miriam still holds his heart despite their divorce.

When first looking at the three parts of the novel I thought that the story would be told chronologically (the dates he is married to each wife is stated at the beginning of each part, so one might assume that those would be the dates that the), but Barney tells his story in a very non-linear way weaving in and out of his stories, pausing half way through one story to tell another that he finds more interesting. When I first started reading it, I found it to be confusing and slightly annoying, but as I became accustomed to his storytelling technique I began to enjoy it. His odd sense of story telling reminded me of my first impression of GGRW, where I was constantly confused in the beginning, but as I got to the end, the change in perspectives, just was another part of the story, not a burden when reading.

As Barney goes through the novel his memory of certain events begins to diminish as he is suffering from Alzheimer’s. He is an unreliable narrator. But I feel that this unreliability makes him more human and realistic. I mean who really remembers every second of their life well enough to present it reliably enough in an autobiography without making some mistakes?

I’m excited to start looking for Canadian-ness allusions. There are a lot of obvious allusions to Canadian-ness (i.e. Barney is stereotypically obsessed with hockey even going so far as listening to the game on his wedding night), but I look forward to looking for those not-so-obvious allusions.

So Many Choices!

I am not entirely sure what book I want to read. For English Honours I will have to read Tomson Highway’s Kiss of the Fur Queen. I don’t have to read it until March though. The book sounds interesting, plus if I read it for this class it might be interesting to see the different points of views that I get just because I am studying it in a different class. But will that sort of count as cheating reading the same book for two different classes? Or is it like hitting two birds with one stone?

I am really interested in reading something by Mordecai Richler as I said in Where is Canada. I have looked up the The Apprenticeship of Buddy Kravitz, Barney’s Novel , Joshua Then and Now and Solomon Gursky Was Here and all four sound pretty interesting.

I tried to read Life of Pi a while ago but for some reason was unable to finish the book. I have heard many great things about it, so maybe it is about time I tried reading it again.

The one last book I can think of that might be good is Obasan by Joy Kogawa. I was told by a friend that it is about the Canadian-Japanese people who were forced to go into the internment camps during WWII.

There are so many possibilities… I just can’t choose!

Plus as I read everyone else’s blogs and what they want to read my list grows longer and longer!

* Just as an update, my group and I have decided to read …. none of these books. We are actually going to be reading the Gum Thief. I am really excited about this because usually I read books that are based in places places outside of Canada or if they are in Canada, ones not based in Vancouver. It will be interesting to see the difference in perspectives that I have with the author concerning Vancouver. And possibly to see not only Canadian-ness-ness (as Erika says), but maybe a little Vancouver-ness-ness.

** Another update… We are actually going to be reading Barney’s Version by Mordcai Richler. Here is our site: http://jjjbarneysversion.wordpress.com/. This novel is placed in Montreal, so it will be interesting to see how I consider Canadian-ness in Vancouver compares to what Canadian-ness means in Montreal.

Attention M*A*S*H 4077

Is anyone else out there a M*A*S*H fan? I love M*A*S*H! I started out by watching the movie and then moved onto the television series. So when I first started reading Green Grass Running Water and the old Indian named Hawkeye was introduced I instantly thought of Captain B.F. “Hawkeye” Pierce played by the incredible Alan Alda and Donald Sutherland and created by Richard Hooker. I know that Hawkeye is meant to be an allusion to Natty Bumppo of ‘The Last of the Mohicans” , which is where Pierce gets his nickname from.

In the story it makes much more sense that Hawkeye is Natty, yet I still could not stop seeing things that alluded to Hawkeye Pierce. For one in M*A*S*H the series it is a common site to see Hawkeye in a Hawaiian shirt.

Hawkeye Pierce reminds me a little of coyote. His character is known to be a trickster, but he also a confusing character who is can sometimes be difficult to understand.

Hawkeye as a M*A*S*H surgeon was also there just to help, much like the four Indians are trying to do.

Really all I have is the hawaiian shirt (which was really Robinson Crusoe’s) and the name Hawkeye that connects the character to Pierce, but I was just wondering if anyone else thought the same thing.

If you haven’t watched the tv show or the movie I highly suggest it.

We are celebrating the Wrong Things

Within my assigned twenty pages the number twenty-six appears four times.

To start off I decided to list anything that involves twenty-six.

  • Iron’s atomic number
  • letters in the interlingua alphabet
  • it is the number that means the God of Israel YHWH
  • 26 red cards/ 26 black cards in a deck of cards
  • John Wayne was born May 26 1907
  •  April 1726 : when Isaac Newton tell William Stukeley how he developed his theory of Gravity (interesting since there is so much falling done in the novel)
  • 1789 Washington declares November 26 Thanksgiving Day
  • November 26 1863 Thanksgiving is made a national, annual holiday

Since Canada’s Thanksgiving is this weekend I decided to stop and look at the significance of November 26. In the present-day USA the holiday seems to revolve around football, turkey and parades. So if this is such a joyous holiday then way does Coyote say he/she doesn’t “care much for November” (195)? The ‘First Thanksgiving’ is remembered as being a celebration where the Pilgrims thanked the Natives (but really they were ta for allowing them to survive the brutal winter in New England and Natives were invited to the feast. But in reality it was a land discussion that brought the ‘Natives’ to the feast. I cannot give justice to what really happened on the ‘First Thanksgiving’ in less than 600 words so please check out this site and this site + video. The ‘friendship’ that the Pilgrims and Natives supposedly gained from this feast eventually led to war and murder.

Another date involving 26 is January 26. In Australia this is known as Australia Day, but to Aboriginal Peoples of Australia it is known as a ‘Day of Mourning’. While most of Australia celebrate their great country, the Aboriginal Peoples see this as the day that began the “degradation and mistreatment by white settlers” in 1788 and symbolizes their loss of land, culture and human rights at the hands of invaders… the wrong things that have happened to them. In 1788 the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove.

On the 1888 Australia Day Aboriginal leaders boycotted the celebrated, but it wasn’t until 1938 that the first “Day of Mourning’  protest took place.

On the anniversary in 1938 the Australian Government tried to re-enact this. They wanted to make the re-enactment authentic so they sent for 26 Aboriginal People to come from the re-enactment. These men did not come voluntarily, but came only because they were told that their rations would be cut off it they did not. These men were kept in stables at the back of the police department until the day of the re-enactment.

As pointed out in class Alberta tells a story about the Aboriginal Peoples who were held prisoner at Fort Marion. She states that twenty-six of these prisoners drew. Now I have looked this up and found many different numbers for how many prisoners who would draw. So Alberta could have been wrong in her lecture. In the movie that Charlie watches on channel 26 and the book Lionel read, particularly chapter 26  it is shown that it is wrong for the  Aboriginal People to win and the ‘white’ hero always comes out on top.

So adding all this up together I have come to the conclusion that the number twenty-six symbolizes all the wrong things that have happened to the Aboriginal Peoples worldwide.  It shows all the loss of land, the torment that their people have gone through because of people who think that they are coming to a “New World” but are instead of coming to a place that is already occupied.

That is all for my hypertext post! I hope you all enjoy your weekend. I hope my little spiel about holidays doesn’t ruin your Thanksgiving!

Assigned Pages: 200-220