Richard B. Wright is a brilliant Canadian novelist and commentator on life. I could never hope to carry his jock strap! There are similarities, however.
|Richard B. Wright|
We are both the same age. Richard B. grew up in Midland and like me, during and after the Second World War when children were expected to be modest, obedient and not overly ambitious. Also, like me, he is nostalgic by nature and invokes Alice Munro's title Who Do You Think You Are? as a perfect embodiment of the reigning social norms of that time and place. His memories are "evocative" as recently pointed out by Toronto poet and book reviewer Bruce Whiteman. The two of us, likewise, have had a life-long struggle with anxiety. Perhaps it goes with the territory.
After attending Ryerson Poly Institute to study radio and television, work in radio and television followed, none of it of much consequence. Finally Richard B. got a job at Macmillan of Canada as a junior editor and where he began to write seriously, first a children's book and then his first novel The Weekend Man.
Interestingly, he writes in the third person...He never says "I", but always "he" or even "the writer". This type of narration depersonalizes his story and moves the tone to somewhere between that of a novel and an autobiography. He is a keen observer with a sense of humour which I enjoy. Richard B's most recent work is A Life Without Words, a beautifully crafted, charming portrait of the writing life. Combining his characteristic wit and self-deprecation with his extraordinary imagination and insight, he has created a deeply affecting memoir that reads like a novel.
Although nominated for several literary awards, it wasn't until 2001 that Wright gained recognition for his award-winning novel, Clara Callan, which led to the republication of many of his earlier works. This novel went on to win three of Canada's major literary awards: The Giller Prize, the Trillium Book Award, and the Governor General's Award. His published works deal with the lives of ordinary people, with a profound balance of depth and sensitivity.
Incidentally there was another writer, the late Richard Nathaniel Wright (September 4, 1908 – November 28, 1960) who was an American author of sometimes controversial novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction. Much of his literature concerned racial themes, especially those involving the plight of African Americans during the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. Literary critics believe his work helped change race relations in the United States in the mid-20th century.
I am humble in this company and it is fun to fantasize that I am family with something in common, albeit a stretch on both counts.
P.S.: There have been other Richard Wrights too -- musicians, artists, an English footballer, a Unitarian, a marine painter and an architect, to name but a few. And to think, none of them know a damn thing about Richard Kenneth Wright, better known as plain old "Dick" the funny guy...Go figure!