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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--à 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?--provides enough forward momentum to propel the reader through endless digressions, all three wives, and every one of Barney's nearly heartbreaking episodes of forgetfulness. Barney's Version, winner of Canada's 1997 Giller Prize, is Richler's 10th novel, and a dense, energetic, and ultimately poignant read. --R. Ellis --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
You have to like a narrator who can ask about libel after being accused "in print, of being a wife-abuser, an intellectual fraud, a purveyor of pap, a drunk with a penchant for violence, and probably a murderer as well" only to have his lawyer answer "Sounds like [the writer] got things just about right." Richler is in top form with this first-person voice of Barney Panovsky, 67-year-old TV producer at Totally Useless Productions, thrice-married (the third being the one that matters, and she's gone; the second, after being found in bed with Barney's best friend, Boogie, is the catalyst for the putative murder), fretting over liver spots and mental slippage. The book is always hilarious, but the humor is sharpened by the psychological accuracy/honesty and the richness of detail; in short, this is one well-written book. There are even footnotes to help out when Barney gets something wrong. Absolutely for all collections, this is what Barney calls his third wife: "a keeper."?Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Saw the movie first, and found it interesting enough to get the book. Astonished that the book is in the form of a memoir, an interior monologue reviewing the marriages of the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Robert Reitter
Read this because of the movie. Loved Loved Loved the movie (one of my top 10). The book is good, but this is one of the few times where I think I like the movie better--not... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Kyle
So I only read this book after seeing the movie. You really do take a random trip down "Barney's" memory lane. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Grace Roman
Terrific, very funny, unique novel in the vein of Saul Bellow and Philip Roth; at times outrageous and always engaging.Published 11 months ago by Michael
tough guy not so tough. great honesty as far as the limits of the protagonist's nature allows. a very funny book, definitely meat and potatoes fare, and yet full of incisive... Read morePublished 11 months ago by pamela friedland
I have to admit I was a little disappointed. It's a good read - all of Richler's work is, but it was a bit depressing to see another trip back to Europe, with associated hijinks,... Read morePublished 21 months ago by VG
Better than the movie, very enjoyable read. Engaging, i read it in a day, cross reference with his other books, but not necessary to have read them.Published 23 months ago by Ken Gill
What a great book. Mordecai Richler was a true Canadian treasurer. What a storyteller. A must read for any husband.Published on March 3, 2013 by StellaDora