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Memoirs of a Media Maverick

by Boyce Richardson

At a time when aspiring journalists have few choices beyond joining the characterless world of the modern mass media, the voice of a rare journalistic gadfly should serve as a welcome antidote. For over 50 years Boyce Richardson has been a thorn in the side of the establishment as both a newspaper writer and filmmaker. His landmark works in print and film helped shed light on the wretched treatment of Canada’s native peoples.

Richardson’s colourful life is certainly grounds for a lengthy memoir, but Memoirs of a Media Maverick could have used some of the passion he has brought to other subjects. Instead, readers are given a largely chronological account of interesting travels, anecdotes, and events that, while no doubt important to Richardson, never really come alive on the page.

Whether he is in India at an experimental village toying with new ways of community-building or yukking it up with his film crew in northern Quebec, readers are given only glimpses of a well-lived life. Reading like a collection of diary fragments hastily thrown together, the narrative touches on fascinating historical events before digressing into details about vacations, Richardson’s wife’s jobs, and other minutiae that fail to sustain interest.

Some parts of the book offer a glimpse of how good it could have been, especially Richardson’s amusing and whimsical recollections of the old days when newspapers were owned by iconoclastic characters, and scotch-swilling columnists cranked out copy on deadline. But the book fails to capture the fire and imagination that has driven Richardson for the past half century. That’s a pity, since such unique voices come along rarely in a lifetime.