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A Life With Words: A Writer’s Memoir by Richard B. Wright (2015)

lifeTHE BOOK
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.

THE AUTHOR
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.

THE GOOD
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.

THE BAD
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.

CONCLUSION
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.

4/5 Stars

NOTE
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.

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15 comments on “A Life With Words: A Writer’s Memoir by Richard B. Wright (2015)

  1. AmberBug
    September 25, 2015

    Sometimes I like reading the “memoir” of a writer or reading about them beforehand, it gives the work more of a personal touch. I’ve found that hearing an author speak about their work has done wonders for my comprehending what they were trying to say, so maybe that’s why. This book looks like a nice find, I love finding little gems like this.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 28, 2015

      I never thought of it that way, but I can definitely see how hearing an author speak would give you some insight into their writing. I guess you don’t necessarily need to read an author’s work to get to know them.

      Like

  2. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy
    September 25, 2015

    How interesting, I never really thought that memoirs mostly appeal to me if it’s full of incidence and emotion, but a quiet book with thoughtful reflections is important too. I’m glad this book was a great read for you. I haven’t heard of Wright before, but now I’m interested!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 28, 2015

      I never thought of it either until I was reading the book and stopped to think about why I was enjoying his stories even though nothing extremely dramatic was happening.

      Like

  3. Naomi
    September 25, 2015

    I’m happy to hear this is a good book. I saw that it came out, but also thought that I should read more of his books before picking it up. However, I like what Amberbug says about getting to know about the author before reading their work. That makes sense too. I have read Clara Callan and loved it (maybe you should start with that one), but I also own a few other of his that I’ve found here and there. This is a good reminder that I should get to them!
    I like the background information that you provided about him and his writing.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 28, 2015

      I think I will start with Clara Callan because it won so many awards, but also because the story sounds really good.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cathy746books
    September 25, 2015

    This sounds very interesting, quiet and reflective.

    Like

  5. Brian Joseph
    September 26, 2015

    Richard B. Wright seems to be an author worth reading.

    Though the memoir sounds very good I think that I would want to read his fiction first.

    I would like to give Clara Callen a try.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 28, 2015

      Clara Callan is about two sisters in the 1930s and their struggles to become independent and find a place for themselves, one in the city and one in a small town. Sounds really good!

      Like

  6. CJ
    September 27, 2015

    I met him today at Toronto’s Word on the Street. He’s thoughtful, humble, candid about his anxiety issues, though you wouldn’t have otherwise known it from his measured reading. He’s an important Canadian author, right up there with Findley in my books and that’s great praise. Clara Callan is a book loved by many, and for good reason, but it’s not his only good book.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 28, 2015

      Thank you for telling us about his WOTs appearance and your impression of him. I heard he was going to be there and was sorry I wasn’t going to see, but I’m hoping he will part of the International Festival of Authors this October.

      Like

  7. lauratfrey
    September 29, 2015

    Never heard of him or Clara Callan – where the heck have I been. Well in 2001 I know where I was – the bar probably – lol. I also appreciate those “quiet” stories and memoirs. This was a nice quiet review 🙂

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 29, 2015

      Ha! You kill me. I will try to write more quiet reviews just for you. In 2001, I was probably trying to read more Canadian women writers. I still am!

      Like

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This entry was posted on September 25, 2015 by in Reviews and tagged , .

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