There is so much I love about Barney’s Version. So many things, in fact, that I had drafted a letter to Richler expressing my thanks that he created Barney. Only on planning to post the letter did I realize (much to my Canadianist chagrin) that Richler has been dead for awhile. Sigh. All the same, thank-you Mr. Richler, wherever you are: Barney is brilliant.
I loved and hated Barney. I wanted him to be happy, to be miserable, mostly to be happy. I knew he deserved to be miserable, but wanted, so much, for him to get what he wanted – what he didn’t deserve. I experienced an unusual (for me) reading response in that I cried at the end of the book, both because I was devastated that the narrative had ended and that Barney’s version ended the way it did. Only in the last pages to be wam-powed into extremes of emotional reactions. Such an affecting story. Cripes.
They’re making a movie! (Who are they? I don’t know.) Or maybe they already did. I only found out when I finished the book and went around telling everyone I knew that in case they missed it when it was an international bestseller and winner of prizes, that they should check it out – immediately. I was told it was a movie. So there you go, if you like movies, you can get your Barney that way, too. Only I say read the book. Read the book for character, for ideas of memory and aging and for the love of a good book. Will I regret making this decision in a few months? Hard to say, but for now I’m listing Barney’s Version as the best read of 2010.