WORK­ING FOR THE WEEK­END

Geist - - Endnotes - —Thad Mcil­roy

A week­end man, we are told in the early pages of The Week­end Man, Richard B. Wright’s 1970 novel (Peren­nial), “is a per­son who has aban­doned the present in favour of the past or the fu­ture. He is re­ally more in­ter­ested in what hap­pened to him twenty years ago or in what is go­ing to hap­pen to him next week than he is in what is hap­pen­ing to him to­day.” Wright’s 2001 novel Clara Cal­lan won the tri­fecta: the Giller Prize, the Tril­lium Book Award and the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s Award. This is his first novel, drawn from his time as a sales rep for the then pres­ti­gious pub­lisher Macmil­lan Com­pany of Canada. Wright’s fic­tional Macmil­lan is called Westch­ester House, lo­cated in “a long low ce­ment block build­ing on Bri­tan­nia Road” in a Toronto sub­urb called Union Place, which surely is Don Mills. A key sub­plot is whether the pub­lisher will be sold to the Amer­i­can con­glom­er­ate Univer­sal Elec­tron­ics Cor­po­ra­tion (UEC), shades of RCA’S ac­qui­si­tion of Ran­dom House in 1965, part of the ver­ti­cal in­te­gra­tion strate­gies then pop­u­lar amongst multi­na­tional me­dia com­pa­nies. Wright’s fic­tional self is Wes Wake­ham, work­ing at Westch­ester as a sales rep of col­lege text­books. Wes is a week­end man, he tells us, “by all ac­counts… a like­able fel­low. Most peo­ple I meet take to me and, with­out say­ing as much, let it be known that I am A-okay.” As he sel­dom has an opinion

on any­thing, he eas­ily avoids ar­gu­ments, ex­cept with his wife, from whom he is sep­a­rated. The book shows its age in a grace­ful way. Sub­ur­ban & sex­ist, its char­ac­ters smoke and drink more than they ac­tu­ally pub­lish or sell books. Kind of Mad Men-ish, but set in the early mod­ern days of Cana­dian pub­lish­ing, Toronto flavour. If you were there or (for some ob­scure rea­son) wish you had been, The Week­end Man is a fine aide-mé­moire.

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