Barney's Version

Barney's Version

Book - 2010
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Barney Panofsky smokes too many cigars, drinks too much whiskey, and is obsessed with two things: the Montreal Canadiens hockey team and his ex-wife Miriam. An acquaintance from his youthful years in Paris, Terry McIver, is about to publish his autobiography. In its pages he accuses Barney of an assortment of sins, including murder. It's time, Barney decides, to present the world with his own version of events. Barney's Version is his memoir, a rambling, digressive rant, full of revisions and factual errors (corrected in footnotes written by his son) and enough insults for everyone, particularly vegetarians and Quebec separatists. But Barney does get around to telling his life story, a desperately funny but sad series of bungled relationships. His first wife, an artist and poet, commits suicide and becomes--a la Sylvia Plath--a feminist icon, and Barney is widely reviled for goading her toward death, if not actually murdering her. He marries the second Mrs. Panofsky, whom he calls a "Jewish-Canadian Princess," as an antidote to the first; it turns out to be a horrible mistake. The third, "Miriam, my heart's desire," is quite possibly his soul mate, but Barney botches this one, too. It's painful to watch him ruin everything, and even more painful to bear witness to his deteriorating memory. The mystery at the heart of Barney's story--did he or did he not kill his friend Boogie?
Publisher: London : Vintage Books, 2010.
ISBN: 9780099554462
Characteristics: 407 p. ; 20 cm.


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Mar 28, 2017

A politically incorrect memoir(fictional) of an insecure person recounting his life before the on set of dementia. Very satirical and at times witty. The narrative is a bit choppy to fit the premise of the book. Good characterizations even if most are not very likable. Probably more interesting if you over 40. Worth reading if you are interested.

Aug 28, 2015

This is not an easy book to read because it has been presented as though written through flashbacks by an elderly man with the onset of dementia. Barney has had a very colourful life and 3 wives. His son has supplied corrective footnotes to his father's text and provided the afterword prior to publication.It is well worth the concentration and perseverance required for the outrageously cynical humour, the total lack of pc , the raft of fascinating characters and Mordecai Richler's brilliant writing.For a quick study,the shorter, more easily digested version may be seen in the film. I much preferred the book.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 07, 2014

Barney is an infuriating, loveable curmudgeon who has loved and lost three wives, possibly murdered his best friend and driven himself to drink. Wickedly funny, politically incorrect, Richler has created his most personable and passionate character yet.

StevenJonKaplan Jan 26, 2014

In my opinion, this is one of Mordecai Richler's best books, partly because you are encouraged to empathize with a character who has many serious flaws, and partly because the author deals with his own aging self.

Feb 09, 2012

Presented as a first-person memoir by the title character, Barney Panofsky, this book struck me as a bit uneven. Well-written and entertaining for the most part, the structure and lack of a plot made it slow at times. Barney has written this memoir to rebut claims about him made in an autobiography of a long-time rival and to present his version of his life. Although roughly chronological, there are many digressions to events and episodes throughout his life, and it can be difficult at times to figure out when a particular scene takes place. Two major threads running throughout the book are the fate of Barney's best friend "Boogie", whom Barney was acquitted of murdering, and Barney's longing for his third wife Miriam, who left him for another man and whom Barney still loves. <br><br>

Barney is a hard man to like. He's argumentative, frequently drunk, and deliberately antagonistic to many people in his life, but has a deeply buried good nature that he rarely displays. I found the tales of his early adulthood in Paris among the most engaging. <br<br>

This novel is probably not for everyone, but it is a solid literary accomplishment with a uniquely interesting protagonist with a genuine, original voice.

Feb 01, 2012

This is my first Richler book, I did not enjoy it much as the characters (main and supporting) were not likeable or transferable to myself, the reader. Though I thought the son's editing was an interesting twist on the reading aspect. Though I will check out the movie and see how it represents Mr. Richler's writing - though I will probably check out his book Duddy Kravitz and we will see how that goes.

Jul 16, 2011

Liked this book, start was slow and hard to follow, perhaps it was Barney's dementia. Richler is a superb writer and the twists of the plot were great. Sometimes the curmugeon aspects were hard to take but once I got past that I enjoyed the book. Looking forward to the movie.

May 06, 2011

I was expecting the same sort of witty banter as Joshua Then and Now, and unfortunately that's pretty much what I got. I guess I wasn't expecting so many of the same elements to be there. I only got half way through this one and had to return it to the library: my fines are already huge due to a book we lost and Barney's Version was a "Fast Lane" book due to the popularity of the movie I guess. Out of principle, I will order it again and finish...

Mar 12, 2011

This is a great novel. The character couldn't be more alive. I loved it.

debwalker Jan 04, 2011

Film version just released at Christmas 2010. "Mordecai Richler created a terminally vulgar, selfish man-child of a protagonist in the original novel, about the titular curmudgeon who stomps through life racking up many emotional casualties en-route to married bliss, divorce, and Alzheimers."

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