Getting Started by William Weintraub
Finalist for The Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction in 2001
Getting Started is a wonderful memoir, a collection of extraordinary letters, and a brilliant recreation of a time when Canadian writers were set to make their mark in the world for the first time.
Writer Brian Moore emigrated from Ireland to Canada in the late 1940s and found work at the Montreal Gazette, where he also found William Weintraub embarking upon a career as a freelance journalist. When he travelled to Paris, Weintraub saw an old friend and former Gazette writer, Mavis Gallant, who filled him in on the tribulations of the expatriate writer’s life. Gallant introduced Weintraub to another Montreal writer, Mordecai Richler, also pursuing a career as a novelist while living a gloriously Bohemian life. Weintraub joined Richler for a while in Ibiza (he later introduced him to Brian Moore), and later they kept in touch.
In these years, Gallant had her short stories published for the first time in the New Yorker, Moore methodically churned out money-making thrillers while working on The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, and Richler wrote his first acclaimed book, The Acrobats. Weintraub, meanwhile, returned to Montreal, where he saw published his brilliant comic novel, Why Rock the Boat?
William Weintraub weaves together his own memories of the 1950s with letters both to and from his literary colleagues. The letters and his recollections are always fascinating, often hilarious, and provide intimate insight into the lives and work of some of Canada’s finest contemporary writers.
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