Words and stories have always been a part of Richard B. Wright’s life. His memoir reflects on a life that began in a small Ontario town to trying to make it in publishing as a young man in Toronto, becoming a teacher and starting a family, to taking a year off and living on nothing while he tried to write. As he honed the craft of writing, Richard struggled with anxiety and depression, yet produced numerous works including the award-winning, Clara Callen.
Richard B. Wright is the Canadian author of thirteen novels and two children’s books. In the Middle of Life, The Age of Longing and Mr. Shakespeare’s Bastard were all shortlisted for literary awards, but he achieved wide recognition in 2001 when his novel Clara Callen won the Governor General’s Award, Giller Prize and Trillium Book Award. In 2002, Richard won the CBA Libras Award. In following years, he would receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario and become a member of the Order of Canada.
What I enjoyed the most about Richard’s memoir was how it lacked any pretension. His stories were thoughtful and amusing, describing his highs and lows, victories and failures, and how hard it can be to turn your thoughts and imagination into words on a page. I also enjoyed how Richard provides us with a peek at what the Canadian publishing world looked like during the sixties.
I felt bad that I hadn’t read anything by the author before picking up his memoir, but I will certainly make a point of reading his work now.
A Life With Words reminded me that memoirs don’t have to be filled with tragedy or wild antics to be captivating. I’ve been star-struck by authors with big books and sensational lives, but hard-working, under-the-radar authors also appeal to me. This was a satisfying book by someone who seems down-to-earth and content with the way his writing career turned out. After reading his memoir, I feel like Richard B. Wright is the kind of person you could strike up a conversation with if you ran into him on the street or at a book event. I want to read and meet more authors like him.
I received a copy of A Life With Words with thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada, but this in no way influenced the thoughts and opinions expressed in my review.