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St. Urbain's Horseman

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,483 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
St. Urbains Horseman is a complex, moving, and wonderfully comic evocation of a generation consumed with guilt – guilt at not joining every battle, at not healing every wound. Thirty-seven-year-old Jake Hersh is a film director of modest success, a faithful husband, and a man in disgrace. His alter ego is his cousin Joey, a legend in their childhood neighbourhood in Montr ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Emblem Editions (first published January 1st 1971)
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Aug 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it interesting to read what was a contemporary book of it's time period. Richler hadn't quite reached his stride as an author yet and the book suffers as less coherent in comparison to Barney's Version or Solomon Gursky. As many reviewers have comented, Richler often writes great, comic vignettes but sometimes has trouble bringing them all together and some of the scenes and characters are so black comic as to be out of place in the structure of the novel or character. That said, there ...more
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I just recently watched the film version of Richler's "Barney's Version", and having finished "Horseman" I feel that it would be equally ill-advised to translate this work to the screen. There's just too much going on. On the one hand you have funny dialogue - I'm sure Dustin Hoffman, having wrapped his tongue around "briskets and blowjobs", could do Issy Hersh as well as he did Izzy Panofsky. But then there's all the other stuff - the Montreal nostalgia, the political/cultural satire, the my ...more
Nancy Lamb
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sublime satire of a film director who longs for the return of his heroic alter-ego.
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Richler, particularly Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
I'm giving this one four stars for its merits as a character-driven novel. Richler really buries us deep inside the head of Jake Hersh, an expat Canadian film director living in London, as he contemplates his life to date. When the story begins he is embroiled in a scandalous trial along with probably the scuzziest fellow I've read about in a while, and Jake looks back on everything that has happened to bring him to this point. A recurring figure in his thoughts is his cousin Joey, whom he dubs ...more
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a black satire, and study of characters far more interesting than they initially appear.

Jake Hersh's life has become unravelled. His relationships with his family, his troubles with the law, the questions about his work - everything seems to be coming apart. The early chapters of this book reflect that, as everything in his world is thrown at you, all at once. But slowly, the book starts to build a complete character out of all these fragments, coming together as you see the gears i
Uthpala Dassanayake
St. Urbain’s Horseman says a lot about a troubled race. As a Jew, one’s story is not simple even when period and geography keeps you away from holocaust. If your race is despised should you escape from it or should you preserve it’s values to show you don’t deserve the despise. You have to be racial to guard your own race from racism and show bravery. If you were trampled as a race you should hate to show that you are not a chicken. With all this, like anybody else, you have your own dreams to a ...more
Toni Osborne
The center of the novel is a crisis point in the life of Jake Hersh, a film director of modest success and a man disgraced. A Canadian living in London going through a mid-life crunch triggered by an unfulfilled professional life and intimidated by his mortality. Jack fails to navigate successfully into middle age as he gets involved with the repellent Harry Stein, a petty criminal, and his cousin Joey, his alter ego, who Jake recreates in the image of his needs. Joey is the avenging horseman of ...more
I remember reading Richler many years ago and was excited by his humor and directness. He fit comfortably with the burst of Jewish writers of stature, intelligence and accomplishment in the second half of the last century. He wrote with daring and plunged into the most outrageous human and sexual behaviors with wit and originality.

However, on second reading, he fails to fascinate. The Jewish self-analysis and caricatured behaviors become tiresome and exaggerated. He spins out the tale expertly,
wow, what a fancy (and actually rather cheap-looking) modern looking cover for a book that feels more historic.

The book jumps right in with some esoteric stuff, and he doesn't do us the courtesy of explaining anything – until – – when? I don't have the patience. Will this be 100 pages of piecing things together, forming some kind of idea from a broken mirror?

It seems like a good mind getting at something, but I never got to where I could grab onto something. I kind of pieced together what other
Overall I would say that this is a book about heroes and how they do and do not help a person deal with their life. It took me a while to figure out what was going on in this book, it seemed to just wander for quite a while but, as with Barney's Version, once I adjusted to the lack of linear plot and just went with it things got better. I thought the generational position of the characters, they are a bit older than the baby boomers, was very similar to Gen-X in being ahead of a huge cohort. Jak ...more
Aug 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richler proves that he has the mettle to deal with a bunch of issues in each book he writes and this one is no exception. Nazis, interracial marriage, the sexual revolution, Duddy Kravitz, bigotry, stolid English characteristics, infidelity and several varieties of angst. At times this book reads a bit like a broken record, especially if it's read with a bunch of other Richler novels - Uncle Abe's diatribe near the end reminded me of another diatribe in Solomon Gursky Was Here; ultimately, howev ...more
Talya Rubin
Apr 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lover's of literature with a good sense of humour
Mordechai Richler's potrayal of Jacob Hersh, a Jewish Montrealer with aspirations of being a great film maker and ties to a past that has given him an anxious personality and a hero complex, makes for a wonderful read. The sometimes indulgent and ridiculous main character wins us over with his charm and delinquence. Richler is extraordinary at potraying the struggles of a man coming to terms with his identity, his conscience, his loves and his life.
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I haven't laughed so hard while reading a book. Seriously! I always thought the Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz was Richler 's best book, but I'm not so sure anymore. St Urbain's horsemen is a witty, adventurous and humorous tale that definitely has my 5\5 star rating. If your Jewish or Canadian thats only more of a reason to read this. You'll understand the subtle references, making Richlers novel even more engaging.
Lauren Simmons
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shifting timeline? Done. Generally a limited narration from the view of one character's thoughts? You got it. A little bit Canadian, a little bit international, a little bit Montreal, a little bit sexy, a little bit tragic? Yep. This book has a few of the things I'm generally drawn to in lit, but it fell short of the five stars because (a) it took me so long to finish it and (b) I couldn't quite understand Jake, for whatever reason. I liked it though, and it's different from other Richler.
Daniel Kukwa
It's certainly the most savage of the Richler novels I've read...a mega-mix of his dark/serious side with his irreverent/love of pastiche side. I think it's too sprawling for its own good, but the novel's ambition still produces some amazing passages & prose. I'm not entirely satisfied, but certainly impressed.

Heather Mcgrail
The characters in this book are fantastic, the descriptions are incredible, and the development is amazing.
I find myself in a similar place, though, as when I read "Native Son:" I really just want to bleach something. I have a strong desire to make something clean, even if it is simply my apartment.
Ann Diamond
This was on the shelf at a friend's house. I took it home, read a few chapters, and then remembered why, long ago, when this novel first appeared, I wasn't interested in it. I'm sad to say little has changed in 30 years, except that Richler's characters, their dreams and desires, are even more irritating than back in their heyday. Sorry.
Colin Grieve
I was expecting to like this more. Very unpleasant and not very believable characters, particularly the female ones. It might have been a good portrait of a time and place but it hasn't aged well. I have Solomon Gursky Was Here, hopefully will enjoy that more.
Definitely not my favourite Richler but glad I stuck it out. Early on, I had no idea what was going on but, in classic Richler style, it all comes together in the end.
Candy Palmater
I know this is considered a Canadian classic, but there were some spots I struggled through and others that I thought were awesome.
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Got through the first 200 pages, then my interest flagged...couldn't go on without pushing my perseverance button. Shouldn't have to be dragged into finishing a book. Enough already!
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite as good as Barney's Version or Solomon Gursky Was Here, but still really enjoyable. It's a shame he's not better known in the US.
Sean Curley
One of Mordecai Richler's longer novels, coming in at just short of 500 pages, this is a sprawling, non-linear narrative that, as is customary of Richler's work, draws heavily on his own life experience, from his childhood in the Anglophone Jewish community in Montreal to his time in London (it's often overlooked that he wrote many of his most famous novels, including the iconic The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, in the period from 1954 to 1972 when he resided in England). Richler's biting, ca ...more
Paul Colver
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I don't see that much of anything happened in this book. Jake begins as Jake and ends as Jake. And we get to read a huge number of pages of gruesome details. As a writer I was fascinated to find out how the book was to be pulled together. it isn't. all kinds of bits and dregs are thrown into the pot - fairly adroitly - to really not add up to much. I rated it a 2 instead of a 1 for the rollicking humour, the rebirth of Duddy, and the insight into Jewishness but as a story what have we? Clearly a ...more
Dan  Ray
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 60s, canadian-lit, owned
I might need some time to digest this one. Some parts of me wanted to throw out a 2 star rating. For the crassness, the awkwardness, the un-likeability of nearly every character. Some parts of me wanted to give out a 4 star rating, for the complexity of the protagonist, the layout of separate plotlines that converge and resolve only at the end. I've settled on a 3 star compromise, how Politely Canadian.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beginnings of Solomon Gursky are evident in Joey, the Horseman of St. Urbain. A golem-type found in much of Richler. Everything is done so well - looping through time to forge the mystery, poking at our uptight society, prodding at his own Jewish heritage, never missing the humour in any situation. And, of course, there's Duddy. Loved it again.
Kenton Smith
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada, fiction, humour
I really enjoyed this book, much more than I thought I would. It isn't anything like the Richler I read in school, but it was much more complex and a very good read. It took me a couple of chapters to sort out his writing style, but once I did that it was great.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember the story structure was interesting to me at the time, going back and forth in time as it did. I really really enjoyed this novel.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes slow, definitely misogynistic, but overall really good and terribly funny.
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richler has written too many books where the protagonist is a well meaning asshole for me not to raise several eyebrows.
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New Canadian Libr...: March: St Urbain's Horseman 15 9 Apr 06, 2018 11:54AM  
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Mordecai Richler was a Canadian author, screenwriter and essayist.

His best known works are The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959) and Barney's Version (1997); his 1989 novel Solomon Gursky Was Here was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1990. He was also well known for the Jacob Two-Two children's stories. .

The son of a Jewish scrap yard dealer, Richler was born in 1931 and raised on St.
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